Court allows Sonko plea bargaining in Sh357m graft case
Nairobi chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti has encouraged parties in the Sh357 million corruption case involving Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to consider plea bargaining.
Sonko is facing charges of economic crimes, abuse of office, unlawful acquisition of property and irregular payments that saw the county lose Sh357 million. He is out on a cash bail of Sh15 million.
During the mention of the case on Wednesday, Ogoti said he always tells parties in corruption cases to seek plea bargaining before the case proceeds to full hearing.
However, the prosecution told the court that they had not offered a plea bargain to Sonko and his co-accused because the defence had not approached them.
Lawyer Cecil Miller for Sonko said as the defence, they had not been approached by the prosecution so that they could seek instructions from their clients on the issue.
A plea bargain is an agreement between an accused and the DPP where he or she agrees to plead guilty to a charge in return of a lesser sentence or in corruption cases they agree to return all the money that was lost back to the state.
While launching plea bargaining guidelines, DPP Noordin Haji said it will cut down on the long trials including in corruption cases.
Meanwhile, the defence asked the court to strike out redacted evidence for witnesses allegedly put under protection.
The court heard that some witness statements had been redacted, meaning most information, including the names of witnesses had been removed, so they didn't have any details.
The prosecution intends to present the witnesses days before they appear in court to protect their identity.
In his ruling, Ogoti said he was not the trial magistrate in the case so he directed them to bring up the issue before the trial court which will make a determination.
Ogoti further said upon parties getting a hearing date, there will be no further adjournments of the matter.
He also ruled that none of accused will be allowed to drop their current lawyer on the day of the hearing.
The court was informed that one of accused persons has since passed on. The defence produced a burial permit.
The prosecution asked for two weeks to verify the details of the burial permit to ascertain its authenticity before they can withdraw charges against him.
The case will be mentioned on September 25 when the parties are expected to take hearing dates.
This article was published by The Star on 27/08/2020.