In Summary
  • Judicial players say the magistrate’s arrest went against a court order and are seeking to stop Haji from charging him.

  • A Nairobi court on Tuesday released Mr Kagoni on Sh200,000 cash bail.

  • But Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina left his three co-accused in custody as they waited to take their pleas.

The embarrassing episode on the prosecution of Mombasa Principal Magistrate Edgar Kagoni, who is accused of helping in the disappearance of exhibits worth Sh30 million in a narcotics case, has once again sparked a war between the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Judiciary.

ICY RELATIONSHIP

The DPP and the Judiciary are part of the same system and a good working relationship between them is critical for the dispensation of justice. But DPP Noordin Haji is learning from experience that prosecuting a judge or a magistrate is a tall order.

A Nairobi court on Tuesday released Mr Kagoni on Sh200,000 cash bail. But Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina left his three co-accused in custody as they waited to take their pleas.

Meanwhile, the fact that the magistrate was held the previous night despite the orders of the High Court in Mombasa against such a move has not gone unnoticed.

The DPP was not available for comment as he was said to be out of the country on official business. 

But other judicial players have warned that by refusing to release the magistrate after a Mombasa court temporarily stopped the bid to charge Mr Kagoni, the DPP risks reigniting his icy relationship with the Judiciary while in the middle of a spirited war against graft.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) last evening termed the DPP’s move to charge Mr Kagoni as unconstitutional.

EXTERNAL PRESSURE

“It is vital in a democracy that individual judicial officers and the Judiciary as a whole be impartial and independent of any external pressures so that those who appear before them and the wider public can have confidence that their cases will be decided fairly and in accordance with the law,” LSK President Allen Gichuhi said. 

“It therefore follows that judicial officers must be adequately safeguarded and only subjected to constitutionally prescribed disciplinary mechanisms not undermined and intimidated by fellow players in the criminal justice sector in full glare of the public,” he added.

In their appeal against the decision to charge Mr Kagoni, his lawyers, led by Mr Nelson Havi and Mr Vincent Omollo, argued that the independence of the judicial officer is guaranteed by the Constitution.

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