What you need to know:
- The corruption convicts were jailed in June for their involvement in the Sh297 million maize scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
- Justice John Onyiego was to deliver the ruling on their bail application on Friday but he adjourned it to next Monday due to a fumigation exercise at the Milimani Law Courts.
The High Court has dealt Sirisia MP John Waluke and his business associate Grace Wakhungu a blow by postponing a ruling on their application to be released on bail pending determination of their appeals.
Justice John Onyiego was to deliver the ruling on Friday but he adjourned it to next Monday due to a fumigation exercise at the Milimani Law Courts.
The corruption convicts were jailed in June for their involvement in the Sh297 million maize scandal at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
Ms Wakhungu is serving a 39-year sentence at Langata Women’s Prison while the MP is serving a 34-year sentence at Nairobi Remand Prison.
They have been unable to raise a combined fine in excess of Sh2 billion.
The two appealed against the conviction and sentencing at the High Court and subsequently lodged an application seeking to be released pending determination of the appeal.
In their court documents, they say their sentences are unsafe since they were condemned on duplicated charges which were not proven beyond reasonable doubt as required in criminal law.
Through a team of five lawyers led by Senior Counsel Paul Muite, the convicts argue that the appeal has overwhelming chances of success and that they are not flight risks.
The lawyers said the money paid to their clients and their trading company, Erad Supplies, did not result from fraud as claimed by the prosecution.
“The money the two convicts were accused of fraudulently receiving from the NCPB was paid pursuant to an Arbitration Order and the High Court’s decree which has not been set aside to date,” Mr Muite said while arguing the bail application.
In the appeal, Mr Waluke and Ms Wakhungu are also accusing the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) of paying a witness to secure the conviction.
They say a prosecution witness from Chelsea Freight company was paid an unknown amount of money as a stipend in order to testify against them.
The convicts had claimed that the company procured and stored the maize for them.
The witness is quoted in the appeal saying “EACC asked me to testify and I asked them to cater for my ticket and accommodation. I was offered some security. I was offered some amount of stipend.”
The Director of Public Prosecution opposed the bail application, saying there are no exceptional circumstances to warrant Mr Waluke and Ms Wakhungu’s release.
State Counsel Ruby Okoth says the conviction and the sentence handed by the trial magistrate are lawful, just and compliant with provisions of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (ACECA) Act.
“The trial court took into account the applicants’ mitigation, which included age and health issues. The conviction was also on the basis of credible and well corroborated evidence presented by the prosecution."
The State counsel adds that the appeals have no overwhelming chances of success so the two convicts should not be released.