Hearing of DCJ Mwilu case begins today with top British prosecutor
A five-judge bench will on Thursday begin hearing the case by the Director of Public Prosecutions that seeks to determine whether Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu is immune from criminal prosecution or not.
That case is the hinge on which Noordin Haji’s prosecution of Mwilu swings in a corruption case in which the DCJ is accused of abuse of office, bribery and failure to pay taxes in relation to the collapsed Imperial Bank.
Mwilu is opposed to her prosecution claiming ill motive and holding that any complaints against her should be pursued through the Judicial Service Commission. But she is a member of the commission.
To lead the corruption case facing Mwilu, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji appointed UK-based Queens Counsel Khawar Qureshi, a law professor and an advocate of 28 years.
“He (Khawar Qureshi) is not coming here to handle all corruption cases. He is coming specifically for the Deputy Chief Justice case because it is an important matter of public interest,” said Haji on Wednesday.
According to the DPP, the pick of the high ranking British advocate was informed by desire for independence in the litigation after several senior lawyers took partisan positions.
“I would have loved to have Senator Orengo to hold brief for the DPP’s office but a lot of the senior counsels either appeared or were not comfortable handling the DCJ case. It is a very sensitive matter and in my opinion, I felt that we needed an independent person who could be able to address the issues before the High Court,” said DPP.
Qureshi has practiced commercial litigation, international arbitration, public international law, as well as administrative and constitutional law.
DPP Haji has also picked three senior lawyers to serve as special prosecutors, believed to also support the Queen’s Counsel in Mwilu’s case.
They are former public prosecutor Philip Murgor who has been an advocate since 1986 and ever served as a criminal advisor on prosecutorial duties.
Former Mombasa mayor Taib Ali Taib, an advocate of 30 years, will also sit in the special prosecutor’s panel alongside James Muruthi Kihara who is a fellow of the chartered institute of arbitrators.
In a statement, Haji says he had advertised to recruit special prosecutors but only got 15 applications, out of which he picked the three. More special prosecutors will be picked in the coming days and weeks as the DPP seeks to strengthen his side of litigation in dealing with graft.
The five judge bench to hear DCJ’s case comprises Mumbi Ngugi, Hellen Omondi, Francis Tuiyot, William Musyoka and Chacha Mwita.
DPP Haji has since gazetted appointment of Khawar Qureshi.