Economy

Friday September 23 2022

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Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

State witnesses are backing off from testifying in the Sh55.8 billion Arror and Kimwarer dam scandal case, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) told the trial court on Thursday.

Thursday, Gideon Kipchirchir Rotich, a former employee of National Environment Management Authority (Nema), declined to testify, claiming he was not informed that he would be a witness in the case.

The prosecution alleged massive interference with witnesses, saying the DPP, Noordin Haji, will soon launch investigations into the matter.

“We will initiate investigations and where possible, make appropriate recommendations. There has been a lot of witness tampering and reluctance to testify,” prosecutor Taib Ali Taib said.

Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, former Nema boss Geoffrey Mwangi Wahungu, and former Kerio Valley Development Authority managing director David Kimosop are among those charged with the alleged loss of Sh55.8 billion.

Defence counsel Katwa Kigen, however, dismissed the claims of witness interference, saying the DPP was playing to the public gallery and that the prosecution should make a formal application.

The case stems from an investigation into the misuse of funds for the two dams in the Rift Valley, overseen by Italian construction company CMC Di Ravenna.

Prosecutors claim that no work had been done on the dams despite the Italian firm having won the construction contract more than five years ago and some Sh19 billion having been paid out by the Treasury in connection with the projects.

In a ruling on Thursday, chief magistrate Lawrence Mugambi noted that the prosecution witness appeared tense and not ready to testify.

He said although he can be compelled to testify, it would not serve the interests of justice to force him to testify yet he did not appear calm.

Mr Rotich, the witness, said an investigator known as Mr Tonui called him Wednesday evening that he was required in court. He claimed he was informed yesterday that his testimony was needed, arguing he requires time to retrieve and vet documents from his former employer, Nema.

The trial was adjourned to November 18.

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