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Sonko fights magistrate in his Sh10m corruption case

Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko wants the High Court to disband a special court appointed by the Chief Justice (CJ) to try him in his Sh10 million corruption case.

In three petitions filed by veteran lawyer John Khaminwa, Sonko says his rights to a fair trial were infringed by former CJ David Maraga’s appointment of a special magistrate’s court for the trial.

The former governor has fired several salvos at the Anti-Corruption Court presided over by Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.

In the applications, he has roped in acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji , Mr Ogoti, the Attorney-General and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The Constitution

The former governor says the Constitution does not recognise the proceedings of special courts but public trials, so the superior court should declare his trial in camera a nullity.

Sonko is seeking orders including the removal of the case from Mr Ogoti’s tray and its allocation to an impartial adjudicator.

He accuses Mr Ogoti of bias and lack of impartiality and claims the trial magistrate has issued “highly prejudicial remarks”, calling him “insane”, “a danger to the society” and a “criminal running away from his crimes”.

“The magistrate would extend extensive latitude to the prosecution,” Dr Khaminwa states in the application to have the case assigned to another court.

The accused also wants the High Court to declare the special court unconstitutional and that the appointment of a special magistrate’s court violates his rights to a fair trial as provided for under Articles 50(2)(d) and 25 (2)(c) of the Constitution.

Further, Sonko wants the court to order the upholding of his right to a fair trial, as pronounced in the Constitution.

He is also seeking orders for a public trial, instead of a private one, that he says would be contrary to Article 50 (2) (d).”

Health status

Regarding his health status following illness, Sonko notes that Mr Ogoti has insisted on proceeding with the hearing even though his ill health is known to the court.

He adds that despite notifying the court of predicaments that have befallen him due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the magistrate issued orders for the trial to proceed.

He cited the death of his long-time driver and the quarantining of one of his lawyers and a personal aide, who tested positive for the disease after interactions at the Kahawa Law Courts, where he was charged over alleged links to terror activities.

But Sonko’s pleas to have the court comply with the directions of senior medics, for him to rest for 14 days, fell on deaf ears.

Quoting Articles 1(c),4 (2),10,22,23, 50 (1), 159,165 (3) (d), 165(6),258 and 259, he asks for the High Court’s intervention, saying it can decide any matter placed before it.

Several cases

Sonko, who was arrested and arraigned in July 2020, pled not guilty to the charges filed against him by the DPP.

He is also charged with graft in two cases involving amounts of Sh354 million and Sh14 million.

The ex-governor is also facing assault and robbery with violence charges at the Kiambu Law Courts.

He was released on bond in all the cases for which he is awaiting further direction from the courts.

Two weeks ago, Justice Weldon Korir suspended the hearing of the Kiambu cases.