Court suspends Rotich, ex-PS trial in dam scam

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020 07:52 | By
Former Finance CS Henry Rotich (right) and PS Kamau Thugge at Milimani Law Courts during the pre-trial of the multi-billion-shilling dams scandal. Photo/PD/CHARLES MATHAI

A Nairobi court has suspended the trial of former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge and their co-accused in the Sh51 billion Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal.

Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti suspended the case for a month after one suspect, alleged to be a director of Italian firm CMC DI Ravena, obtained interim orders stopping his prosecution.

According to the magistrate, the suspects were accused jointly, therefore, can only be tried as a group. The order  granted to Richard Malebe, therefore, affects all of them. Rotich and  Thugge were present in court.

Ogoti also issued warrants of arrest against 18 Italians who are directors of the firm’s Italy and Kenya branches after they failed to appear in court to plead to corruption charges. The firm was contracted to undertake the two dam projects.

Malebe was granted temporary orders on February 18 of this month by Justice Mumbi Ngugi. 

While asking the High Court to suspend the dams cases, Malebe alleged that his rights were violated when he was arrested and charged alongside Rotich.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) claims that Malebe, who has never pleaded to the charges in the dams scandal, is one of the directors of the Italian company. But refutes the claims he is not. Malebe’s petition will be heard on March 2. 

Special prosecution counsel Taib Ali Taib asked the court for 30 days to find the progress on the petition and also report on warrants of arrest just issued against the accused persons.

“In order to put everything in perspective, the matter will be given 30 days for DPP to report back on the two issues he has raised. The matter will then proceed for pretrial, at the next mention, all accused will be exempted from appearing but appear at the date that will be given,” Ogoti ruled.

Charged afresh

The case will now be mentioned on March 26.

Rotich and Thugge were charged afresh alongside former East Africa Community Principal Secretary Susan Jemtai Koech, former Kerio Valley Development Authority managing director David Kimosop, Kennedy Nyakundi Nyachiro, Jackson Kinyanjui and Titus Muriithi on November 7.

The seven now face 31 counts after the prosecution consolidated the Arror and Kimwarer dams files into one.

According to the new charge sheet, Rotich is accused of conspiring with his PS and 25 others to defraud the government of Kenya over Sh50.1 billion  in the development of Kimwerer and Arror Multipurpose dams.

They allegedly entered into the contract for the construction of the two dams, projects they knew were not approved.

Rotich, Thugge, Koech, Kimosop, Nyachiro and Kinyanjui faced two other counts of willful failure to comply with applicable  procurement laws.

Abuse of office

Rotich, the two PSs and Kimosop were also accused of engaging in a project without prior planning.

“Being persons who were concerned with the management of public revenue, they engaged in a project for the development of Kimwarer multi-purpose dam without prior planning,” read the charge sheet.

Rotich was further charged with two counts of abuse of office while Thugge was charged with five counts of abuse of office.

The CS allegedly used his office to illegally confer contractual rights and benefits to CMC di Ravenna.

The former CS , his PS, Kimosop, Nyachiro and Kinyanjui are also charged with  financial misconduct in that they made  an improper payment of public funds to the Italian firm for the construction of Kimwarer dam.

Rotich and Thugge are out on a Sh50 million bond.

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