Justices Aggerey Muchelule and Said Chitembwe/ FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 15- The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has supported a petition blocking the arrest and charging of two High Court judges over allegations of bribery.
LSK said that searches conducted by police on July 22, 2021, on justices Aggerey Muchelule and Said Chitembwe were a slap in the face of the Judiciary as they undermined public confidence in the country’s judicial system.
LSK acting secretary Florence Muturi said the police should have notified the Chief Justice of the impending arrest of the judges and the search, for her consent.
“That, the arrest of the judicial officers on 22nd July 2021, the searches conducted in their chambers and the interrogation thereto departs from best practices from comparative jurisdictions that have been put in place to safeguard confidence in the judiciary and the separation of powers principle,” she said in an affidavit.
Muturi noted that the arrest, search and interrogation had ramifications that could adversely affect the administration of justice, which may ultimately affect the dispensation of justice.
“Any arrest on a sitting judge should await the outcome of proceedings by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC),” she added.
Last July, the two Judges were picked up and questioned for hours by officers attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over claims that they had received a bribe from an unidentified woman.
Following the raid, the police said they recovered $57,000 (Sh6.1 million) from the chambers of Justice Chitembwe.
Chitembwe admitted that he was holding about Sh700,000 in US currency which he later explained was meant for payment of school fees for his son who is studying at a university in Australia.
Following the police raid, the Kenya Judges and Magistrates Association (KMJA) moved to court to block any further arrest or charging of the two judges, pending the determination of the petition.
Justice Jairus Ngaah issued temporary orders barring the prosecution of the two judges and blocked any further searches in the chambers, pending further orders.
Justice Chitembwe, who is facing several complaints of misconduct before the JSC said the three police officers who raided the chambers brought an unidentified lady, and allegedly recovered US$50,000 after a search.
“That after the search, I did remove from my pockets USD 7,000 that I had been having with me for purposes of paying for my son’s school fees at the Edith Cowan University Perth Australia and handed over the same to the officers,” he said.
The Judge through his lawyer Dunstan Omari said it is wrong for the police to mislead that they are the ones who recorded the money.
Chitembwe said he and his wife have had a dollar account in her name for more than three years and as such, it was not unusual for him to have US dollars.
Felix Karisa, an officer attached to the DCI claimed that they had been tipped that some judicial officers had been receiving bribes to deliver favourable judgments and rulings.