Nairobi — The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has denied waiving the extradition of the ex-Kenya Power (KPLC) Managing Director Samuel Gichuru who is wanted in the United Kingdom over graft.
The statement on Sunday came following claims that the DPP was holding up Gichuru’s extradition leaving his co-accused, the former Minister of Energy Chris Okemo to face the charges, in a move perceived as selective justice.
The two are accused of money laundering and concealing proceeds of crime.
They reportedly hid over Sh900 million in hard currency in offshore accounts in Jersey, UK.
However, in a quick rejoinder, DPP Haji clarified that the extradition process against Gichuru has been justly halted on medical grounds.
“The ODPP has not made the decision not to proceed with the extradition proceedings against Mr. SAMUEL KIMUNCHU GICHURU and it is therefore erroneous to report otherwise. Further, the extradition proceedings against Mr. Gichuru have not been halted but held in abeyance or postponed on account of the medical condition of the fugitive,” Haji said Sunday.
“This is permissible under domestic law, internationally, and under the laws of the United Kingdom,” he added.
DPP went on to state: “It is an internationally accepted principle that extradition may be postponed or held in abeyance on the basis that, it would be “unjust or oppressive or too severe a punishment for extradition to proceed.”
The principle is outlined in clause 15, sub-clause 2(b) of the London Scheme for extradition within the Commonwealth.
Given Gichuru’s medical condition, DPP Haji said the foregoing provisions of the London Scheme apply.
The DPP went on to say that this is not the first instance that a fugitive’s medical condition has been invoked as a justification for abeyance or postponement of extradition.
He singled out Kenya’s extradition request to the UK for the handover of Philip John Ransley, a retired judge accused of defrauding Kenyans millions of dollars.
The DPP said that the UK relied on the medical opinion of Dr. David E. Neal, to postpone and ultimately declined the extradition request.
He added that it is a common practice in various jurisdictions around the world to postpone the extradition of fugitives on grounds of medical conditions.
“This year, the British Authorities have put in abeyance the request by Kenya to extradite a British Service Officer, who is required to be prosecuted with the offence of rape, pending negotiations between the relevant authorities,” the DPP said noting that the identity of the parties involved may not be disclosed at this time due to confidentiality and the respect to the rights of the victim of the rape.
As per Section 91 of the UK Extradition Act 2003, a Judge must discharge or postpone extradition if persuaded that the physical or mental condition of the person is such that it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite a fugitive.
“Evidently, from the foregoing the medical condition of a fugitive is a factor to be considered in the execution of extradition request,” Haji said.
He pointed out that his office, in line with international conventions and best legal practices considered the medical condition of Gichuru adding that the extradition proceedings against Gichuru shall proceed should his medical condition permit.
“We reiterate that the proceedings have not been halted but held in abeyance on account of his medical condition and thus there is no selective justice herein,” the DPP added.
The DPP further said that the extradition proceedings against Gichuru’s co-accused Okemo are still ongoing noting that the extradition court will rule on whether he is eligible to surrender next month on November 30.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions remains committed to the execution of the request for extradition herein in accordance with all relevant laws. In doing so, the Office shall at all times uphold the rule of law and respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the subjects as provided for under both national and international laws,” he said.