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Mutunga to appear before tribunal on bias claims

Tuesday May 17 2016

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga (right) converses with Kamiti Prison inmate Said Kiondo shortly after the launch of a Criminal Division Court Users Committee at the prison on March 22, 2016.  PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI| NATION MEDIA GROUP

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga (right) converses with Kamiti Prison inmate Said Kiondo shortly after the launch of a Criminal Division Court Users Committee at the prison on March 22, 2016. PHOTO | WILLIAM OERI| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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A judge being investigated by a tribunal has been allowed to cross-examine Chief Justice Willy Mutunga over claims of prejudice.

Justice David Maraga who is chairing the tribunal on Monday said the request by Justice Joseph Mutava through his lawyer Philip Nyachoti would be allowed in order to give him a fair hearing.

“The rules of the tribunal authorise us to accord Justice Mutava the treatment he requires. Having been satisfied with the grounds raised, we allow his request,” he said.

Mr Nyachoti said he wanted to cross-examine the CJ in relation to evidence given by the Judiciary ombudsman Kennedy Bidali.

“We have a lot of respect for the office of the Chief Justice but Mr Bidali has raised a number of issues which we want clarified,” Mr Nyachoti said.

Mr Bidali had told the tribunal that he had asked Dr Mutunga to investigate Justice Leonard Njagi, who reportedly received a text message from Justice Mutava to influence the outcome of a ruling.

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It emerged that the interview between Dr Mutunga and Justice Njagi formed part of the report to the Judicial Service Commission, leading to the recommendation presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta to form the tribunal.

Among the grievances raised by Mr Nyachoti was why Dr Mutunga chose to interview Justice Njagi but failed to accord Justice Mutava a similar opportunity to respond to claims levelled against him.

Mr Nyachoti reminded the tribunal that Mr Bidali was categorical that Justice Njagi was called by the CJ after he (Dr Mutunga) went through the recommendations on the need to summon the judge.

Monday, Justice Maraga said the tribunal disagreed with the contention raised by assisting counsel Nazima Malik, who said Mr Nyachoti did not lay down reasonable grounds on why the CJ should be cross-examined.

The date for the CJ to appear before the tribunal was, however, not set but Justice Maraga said he would be called “at an appropriate time”.

Other members of the tribunal are Justices David Majanja and Maureen Odero, Prof Patricia Mbote, Mr Lawrence Mute, Ms Jedidah Ntoyai and Mr Omesh Kapila.

Meanwhile, lawyers Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Odhiambo Adalla will also appear before the tribunal to answer to allegations made against them by witnesses.