Former journalist under fire in Tunoi tribunal hearings

Former journalist under fire in Tunoi tribunal hearings

The tribunal probing bribery allegations against suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi will resume its hearings on the 26th of this month after holding its first public hearing Tuesday morning.

This follows a status conference that was held later Tuesday afternoon to chart a way forward after Tunoi’s defense complained about Kiplagat’s conduct before the tribunal.

In today’s hearing Tunoi’s defense team led by Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia sought to discredit whistle-blower Geoffrey Kiplagat’s earlier testimony and affidavit.

In a sworn affidavit, the former journalist claimed that Judge Philip Tunoi received a Sh200 million bribe from Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero in a bid to influence the outcome of an election petition filed by Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu.

In Tuesday’s hearing however, Tunoi’s defense team urged Kiplagat to come clean on allegations that Justice Tunoi purchased two parcels of land and two tractors in Uasin Gishu County after receiving the alleged bribe from Kidero.

Tunoi says, should Kiplagat and his accomplices in the saga prove he owns the two parcels of land; he would be ready to resign from the bench and hand over the said land.

The former journalist was also put to task to explain how money changed hands in public without any other person witnessing the transaction after he claimed in his affidavit that he saw the judge receive a briefcase stashed with cash in US dollars.

It was during the conference held in private that it was decided that the tribunal hearings will resume on 26th of April 2016, to allow the tribunal investigate new information on individuals mentioned by Kiplagat in his testimony.

Kiplagat denied an earlier claim that he told judiciary officials he wanted Sh30 Million to finish the case.

He further denied that he called the embattled judge, Justice Tunoi, claiming to be former powerful politician Nicholas Biwott.

The former journalist has since insisted that he acted as a go-between for the two parties and that he was present when Tunoi received the bribe at Petro fuel station on Waiyaki Way.

The suspended Supreme Court judge last week opted for public hearings, quashing an earlier request he had made to have his hearing conducted in private.

In late February, President Uhuru Kenyatta suspended Tunoi and formed a six-member tribunal to further probe him.

The Sharad Rao-led tribunal was formed to determine whether Justice Tunoi should continue to hold office following claims by journalist Geoffrey Kiplagat that he took a bribe of Sh200 million from Governor Kidero in an election petition filed by Kabete Member of Parliament Ferdinand Waititu.

Other members of the tribunal are: Justice Roselyn Korir, Justice (Rtd) Jonathan Havelock, Judith Guserwa, James Kaberere Gachoka, Abdirashid Abdullahi Hussein and George Munji Wakukha.

Tunoi’s woes began after Kiplagat, a former KASS FM presenter, alleged that he had delivered Sh202 million from Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero to Justice Tunoi in a bid to influence his ruling in an election petition filed by the now Kabete MP Ferdinand Waititu in an interview aired on NTV.

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Story By Wangui Ngechu
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