The anti-corruption court has temporarily suspended the trial of former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and 28 co-accused in the Sh63 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal.
Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti suspended the trial after one of the suspects, Richard Malebe, obtained the orders staying his prosecution.
Suspending the trial Mr Ogoti said since Mr Malebe was jointly charged with Rotich and others in the case, the stay order issued by High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi affects all.
In her order of February 28, 2020, Justice Ngugi directed, “The prosecution of the petitioner — Richard Malebe — is hereby stayed, pending hearing and determination of the petition.”
Mr Ogoti said this order affected all the 29 suspects as they face a joint charge of conspiracy.
The charge reads that between December 17, 2014 and January 31 2019, the accused jointly conspired to defraud the Government of Kenya $501,829,769.63 by entering into a construction Arror and Kimwarer dams.
The charge further states that the suspects knew the projects had not been approved.
Prosecutor Taib Ali Taib sought court’s indulgence for 30 days.
Mr Ogoti adjourned the case for 30 days up to March 26.
Also, the court allowed the Director of Public Prosection’s (DPP’s) plea for a warrant of arrests for 18 suspects who have never appeared in court.
Mr Ogoti directed the case to be mentioned on March 26 when the DPP will confirm the position of the court case.
“If the orders sought by Mr Malebe will have been granted then the DPP will proceed with the case against the others — Mr Rotich and the 27 others,” the court heard.
In the petition filed before the Anti-Corruption and Economics Crimes Division court Mr Malebe sought to stay his prosecution alongside Mr Rotich and others, alleging his fundamental and constitutional rights have been violated.
Justice Ngugi directed the case to be heard on March 2, then ordered Mr Malebe to serve the DPP, the anti-corruption chief magistrate’s court and the Attorney General.
Justice Ngugi granted the ex-parte order on February 18.
According to the magistrate, the suspects are charged jointly and, therefore, can only be tried as a group. Any order temporarily halting the trial affects all of them.
“Since all the accused persons are jointly charged, the net effect is that all the 29 suspects have been affected by the superior court orders,” Mr Ogoti.
Mr Rotich and the other accused persons were charged with various economic crimes such as flouting procurement and tender procedures, conspiracy to defraud, engaging in a project without prior planning, and abuse of office.
They are out on a bond of Sh50 million.
They were given a cash bail of Sh15 million when they were charged in July 2019.