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Hearing of Sonko’s graft case begins ‘in camera’

The trial of Governor Mike Sonko in the Sh14 million graft case against him has begun ‘in camera’ before Senior Principal Magistrate Peter Ooko.

Mr Ooko directed the case to proceed ‘in camera’ after State Prosecutor James Kihara said he had lined up two protected witnesses for Tuesday’s session.

Mr Kihara asked the court to adjourn the public hearing to pave way for the court to be reconstructed to cater for the protected witnesses to be allowed to start giving their evidence.

In a case where witnesses are protected to hide their identity, the rules require that they testify from an enclosed dock but their voices can be heard and recognised.

Their recorded testimony is detracted and their voices may be convoluted.

They also use pseudo-names for security purposes.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the DPP introduced an application that caused a lot of confusion in the court as he sought to introduce new evidence that had not been served on Governor Sonko.

Defence lawyers Cecil Miller and George Kithi for Sonko and Paula Atikuda for the other accused persons urged the court to adjourn the case for seven days to enable them file responses.

Mr Miller accused the DPP of flouting the law on pre-trial directions that no fresh applications will be filed on the trial date of the case.

But Mr Kihara clarified that he had served the defence with the file and that he was not “ambushing the defence”.

Mr Miller said he had been served with the application which had been certified urgent.

The magistrate said the trial procedure is that all applications should be disposed of before trial starts.

Mr Ooko asked the DPP to choose to prosecute the fresh application or withdraw it if the trial will proceed.

Mr Kihara went for the latter and asked the court to put in abeyance the application which he will file later to introduce the fresh evidence.

But the defence indicated  it will object to the new application.

The magistrate also allowed Mr Miller to challenge in the High Court the directions on calling of protected witnesses.

“The orders being challenged by defence lawyers Miller, Kithi and Atikuda were given by the High Court and l cannot question the same,” Mr Ooko ruled.

Mr Miller is urging the High Court to vacate orders protecting witnesses.

The magistrate said in his ruling that the High Court orders cannot be questioned by a subordinate court.

Governor Sonko is seeking orders to vacate the directions on protected witnesses in all the three graft cases against him.

He has denied the charges in all the cases and is out on bond.

Read the Original Article on Nation Africa