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Suspended industrialization minister Henry Kosgey could face up to 120 years in jail or a fine not exceeding Sh12 million after an anti-corruption court ruled that he has a case to answer over twelve counts of abuse of office.
According to Section 46 and 48 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, any person found guilty of an offence of abuse of office is liable for a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or a jail term not exceeding 10 years or both on each count.
However, it is at the court’s discretion to decide whether the jail sentence will run concurrently or each count to carry its maximum sentence.
Principle magistrate Elijah Obaga on Friday set the stage for Mr Kosgey’s trial by ruling that the State has established a credible prima facie case against the Tinderet MP and put him on his defence.
“Having carefully gone through the evidence adduced by the prosecution and witnesses, as well as the submission by the state and defence counsels, I find that the evidence has disclosed a prima facie case against the accused on all 12 counts facing him,” ruled Mr Obaga.
He added that the authorities submitted by the prosecution were sufficient to accordingly call upon Mr Kosgey to make his defence.
Mr Kosgey is facing charges of 12 counts of abuse of office while he was serving as the minister for Industrialization.
He is accused of using his office to improperly exempt individuals and companies importing a total of 113 motor vehicles from the application of the Kenya Standards Code of Practice for road vehicles.
According to the code of practice KS1515:2000, the government outlawed the importation of vehicles that are more than eight years old except those of government interest, vehicles for the diplomatic corps or those brought by returning citizens.
The restriction was meant, among other things, to guard against dumping old vehicles into the country and protect the environment from pollution.
In its submissions to prove that Mr Kosgey committed an offence, the state produced a total of 22 witnesses to support its case.
State counsel Patrick Kiage submitted that the suspended minister acted arbitrarily without consulting the National Standards Council whose duty was to advice the minister on matters relating to vehicle importation.
It also emerged that the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) warned the minister to desist from flouting the rules by allowing importation of overage vehicles, but he disregarded the warnings.
A witness told the court that KACC director PLO Lumumba wrote to Mr Kosgey asking him to stop clearing vehicles older than eight years since none of the old vehicles the ministry had exempted were for public benefit.
Two permanent secretaries testified that the minister did not heed their warning over concerns raised by exemption from the eight year rule.
Finance PS Joseph Kinyua said he wrote to his Industrialization counterpart Dr Karacha Kibicho informing him that the matter raised concerns on whether the government was serious on restrictions on importation of overage vehicles.
Dr Kibicho told the court that he suspected there was fraud going on after establishing that 87 vehicles had been cleared from Kebs records through a ministerial waiver, yet his office only listed seven.
The Tinderet MP has denied the charges and in his defence maintained that he acted within the law.
He also questioned the merit of the charges, arguing that his predecessors applied the same law but were not prosecuted.
Mr Kosgey stepped aside as minister for Industrialization in January after Attorney-General Amos Wako allowed the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest and charge him for illegally allowing the importation of over-age vehicles.
After the ruling, Mr Kosgey’s defence lawyers pleaded with the magistrate to allow them submit their defence after October since they have another case facing him at the Hague coming up in September.
The request was opposed by state counsel Patrick Kiage who said that although he sympathised with Mr Kosgey’s predicament at the Hague, the state wanted the case to proceed expeditiously.
Principal magistrate Elijah Obaga concurred with the state counsel and directed that Mr Kosgey submit his sworn evidence and set August 11 and 12 for defence hearing.
By PAUL OGEMBA email@example.com
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