Judge Philomena Mwilu

Kenya:Plans to block Queen’s Counsel Qureshi hit a snag

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Judge Philomena Mwilu
Judge Philomena Mwilu

The Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu on Thursday, January 24, suffered a major blow after a High Court cleared Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi to prosecute the corruption case facing her.

The Deputy Chief Justice Counsel led by Siaya Senator James Orengo in December last year filed a petition seeking to bar the London based lawyer from handling the case on the grounds that he did not produce a certificate of practice.

In a ruling read by Justice Chacha on behalf of a five judge bench, the Judges said they were convinced that Qureshi was constitutionally appointed and he does not need a Kenyan Advocate Practicing Certificate or a work permit to practice law in Kenya.

“We are satisfied that his appointment meets the required law with respect to all the challenges. We are constrained to find that the application is without merit,” reads the ruling.

The Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji appointed Prof. Khawara Qureshi last month through single sourcing after advertising for a private legal counsel failed to produce a suitable candidate. He defended his move saying Mwilu’s case is of public interest and requires a prosecutor who had no political links or any attachment to it.

“In order to ensure transparency and independence in dealing with these cases, to build jurisprudence, to allow pragmatic interpretation of the Constitution and to avoid conflict between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Judiciary, we deem it prudent to engage private foreign counsel to deal with these matters,” Haji said.

The court also dismissed an application by Noordin Haji seeking to prevent Senator James Orengo and Okong’o Omogeni from representing Mwilu. The Judges said Haji failed to provide evidence which could have been used to stop them.

In the application, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution argued that the duo are part of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that grills the office over accountability saying they will use their influence in the committee to interfere with the case.

“I understand the constitutional principle that every person has a right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice, but it is with a heavy heart that I make the application for Senator James Orengo to be qualified from these proceedings,” stated the application.

Mwilu is accused of abuse of office, accepting money in the form of a gift, failure to pay taxes, and obtaining by false pretense security belonging to imperial Bank which is under receivership.

 

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