Reprieve for Kinoti as Appeal court sets aside jail sentence
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss George Kinoti yesterday got a reprieve after the Court of Appeal temporarily suspended his arrest and subsequent jailing for four months.
A three-judge bench—Fatuma Sichale, Imaana Laibuta and Mbogholi Msagha—issued interim orders suspending Kinoti’s sentence pending a ruling that will be delivered on April 1.
“We will deliver our ruling on April 1, 2022 and in the meantime, we grant an interim order of stay pending the ruling,” the Appellate Court ruled.
The decision comes after Attorney General Paul Kariuki last week filed an appeal challenging the decision of the High Court to commit Kinoti to civil jail over failure to release firearms belonging to businessman Jimi Wanjigi.
The AG informed the Appellate court that Justice Anthony Mrima erred in law by committing Kinoti to jail without hearing him. He argued that the DCI does not keep or store civilian firearms.
Lawyer Cecil Miller and Wilfred Nyamu both acting for Kinoti and the AG, urged the court to issue the temporary stay pending hearing and determination of the appeal.
“We urge the court to grant temporary order suspending the committal of Kinoti to jail failure to which the appeal will be rendered nugatory,” said Miller.
The lawyers further said Justice Mrima erred in law and fact by usurping the powers Firearms Licencing Board by not appreciating the law governing civilian gun holders as provided for under the Firearms Act.
“The learned judge erred in law by not enjoining the Firearms Licensing Board as a party in the proceedings even after it was brought to the court’s attention that the board is the body mandated with regulating and storing civilian firearms,” Miller said.
He further informed the Court of Appeal judges that Justice Mrima, while convicting Kinoti, failed to consider the new evidence availed by the board through various correspondences that they are the ones in possession of the Wanjigi firearms.
“That the court erred in fact and law by disregarding Kinoti plea, evidence and submissions that the DCI boss does not have custody of the firearms in question and tendered sufficient evidence to prove the same,” the lawyer submitted.
Court was also informed that Mrima erred in law by disregarding the submissions and mitigation by Kinoti that he is not a custodian of the firearms and proceeded to sentence him for contempt.
However, Wanjigi’s lawyer, Willis Otieno, objected to the grant of the temporary orders, arguing that Kinoti should be serving his jail term. “He has not reported to Kamiti, in fact, he is continuing to disobey court orders. Why should he waste court’s time by saying that he runs a risk of serving the four months? There is no risk at all, in fact, he is in office,” said Otieno
Otieno submitted that Kinoti should serve the term so that public confidence is seen in the office that he holds.
The Court of Appeal order comes a day after the High Court issued a warrant of arrest to have Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai arrest Kinoti after he failed to surrender to prison to serve his jail term.
DCI boss was on November 18 sentenced to four months in prison by Justice Mrima after he was found guilty of defying court orders dated June 21, 2019 requiring him to release to Wanjigi seven firearms and ammunition.
In his sentencing ruling, Mrima ordered Kinoti to within seven days surrender himself to the officer-in-charge of Kamiti Maximum Prison with a view of serving the sentence.
The judge has directed that in the event that Kinoti fails to surrender, a warrant of arrest would be issued against him and the Inspector General of Police would execute the same.
If the IG Hillary Mutyambai fails to execute the warrant, the same shall remain valid and be executed at any time, including when Kinoti leaves the office of the DCI.