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Attorney-General Amos Wako to Advise Kibaki, Raila On Ruto's Fate in Kenya

Published on Tuesday 19th October 2010

Attorney-General Amos Wako on Sunday appeared to shoulder the burden of the government's next move on the criminal charges facing Higher Education minister William Ruto.

The government chief legal advisor said he would advise President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga on the action to take against the minister but would not reveal what that advice will be.

"As you know, I cannot make comments like other ministers and politicians. I have my clients, the two principals, and will advice them as required," Mr Wako told journalists in Nairobi.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo and his predecessor, Ms Martha Karua, however challenged the two principals to obey the law.

Mr Kilonzo dismissed Mr Ruto's claim that he was being targeted politically, saying it was the Eldoret North MP who filed the case that determined that he should be charged.

"I appeal to the two principals to assert their authority and show Kenyans that they are leading from the front in the reforms," said Mr Kilonzo.

He added that as a minister and member of parliament, Mr Ruto should respect the laws he participated in writing.

"If one has a problem with the law, let them bring amendments to Parliament and have the law exempt ministers from such suspensions," said Mr Kilonzo.

Ms Karua said: "One cannot use the rule of innocent until proven guilty to shield themselves while the law is explicitly clear on what should be done," she said.

Kanu official Marsden Madoka defended Mr Ruto, saying he should not resign since he had not been found guilty. Higher Education Assistant Minister Asman Kamama called for a sober debate on the issue.

"Let us not lynch or commit mob justice against anybody who has not been proven guilty by the courts of law," he said.

Section 62 of the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that "a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended at half pay, with effect from the date of the charge."

Such a suspended public officer continues to receive the full amount of any allowances, according the law.

In the past, the President has been consisted in asking ministers -- including his allies such as George Saitoti, Kiraitu Murungi and Amos Kimunya -- faced with serious allegations of corruption to step aside until they are cleared.

An Office of the President official, who is conversant with the thinking around the presidency, said he believed that Mr Kibaki will be reluctant to act in a manner that shows him as breaking the law.

Mr Ruto possibly has a ghost of a chance of avoiding suspension on the strength of an appeal against the court ruling asking that he faces fraud charges.

The minister and four other persons face fraud charges over the alleged sale of a piece of land in Ngong Forest to Kenya Pipeline Company Ltd for a total of Sh272 million. The minister allegedly received Sh96 million at various intervals during the alleged transaction.

In the case, the Eldoret North MP and Berke Commercial Agencies, a company associated with him, Mr Joshua Kulei, a former aide of retired president Daniel Moi, Mr Sammy Mwaita (Baringo Central MP) and two other firms were sued for allegedly obtaining money from KPC between August 6 and September 6, 2001.

Mr Ruto moved to the High Court in 2005 soon after he and four other persons were charged. In the petition, Mr Ruto maintained that he did not receive any money from the sale of land, measuring 1.754 hectares and that he was a stranger in the case.

According to him, the plot was sold to Kenya Times Media Trust where Mr Ruto was a trustee. Mr Ruto is alleged to have received Sh9.9 million, saying he was in a position to sell the land, belonging to the ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

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