Scores of Kenyans and foreigners seeking for justice at Malindi Law Courts are reportedly facing hard times as corruption among judicial officers continues to take new dimension every day with suspected extortionists left to run the show and sell justice only to the highest bidder.
In what is seen as new attempts to beat the intensified war on corruption at the Judiciary and other government departments, corrupt individuals including senior magistrates and officials from office of Director of Public Prosecutions have now reverted to working in cahoots with cartels involving powerful prostitutes and court brokers who identify and profile their victims for bribes.
Already Julie Oseko a Malindi based magistrate is in trouble with Judicial Service Commission after she was accused of chatting on phone during court sessions and leaving the hearings in the middle of witnesses testimonies.
In many cases, the cartels have been known to create suspicious claims mostly defilements and unlawful assaults cases against targeted wealthy and familiar individuals, report the matter to corrupt police officers who later lodge fabricated charges, then forward the case to one of their own at the office of DPP for prosecutions.
According to sources familiar with the bribery scheme, such cases are only be brought to court and prosecuted before friendly magistrates known to be part of the extortion scheme. The magistrates’ only work is to see that the targeted accused individuals are frustrated through exorbitant bail rates and prolonged court processes unless they toe the line and part away with money demanded as bribe.
A number of suspected corrupt judicial officers and magistrates in the tourist town are suspected to have enriched themselves through bribes and other malpractices as they continue to jeopardise and evade the criminal justice system
Many of them are seen driving slick cars and own expensive houses and other properties particularly in Malindi and Mombasa.
The scheme is known to target wealthy tourists and foreign investors from across Kilifi and Mombasa mainly Italians, Germans and other Europeans in particular, with Malindi and Mtwapa being the areas of interests to them due to their tourism and the fact that they host many rich foreign investors.
The sources said scores of foreigners who attempted to frustrate the bribery scheme are currently languishing in jails just because they and sometimes their families failed to secure their freedom through bribes. Sources privy to the courts’ operations said the extortion ring has reached an alarming rate and Chief Justice David Maraga must read the riot act. Those suspected start with the court’s top magistrates severely implicated in cases of bribery.
The latest case involves a Turkish billionaire Osman Elsek currently facing various charges of defilement said to have been trumped-up on him after he turned down demands for bribes from the extortion ring. The hearing of the Turkish’s case has been going on before Oseko since early last year.
However, the manner in which the case was being handled by the court according to sources, has raised eyebrows.
The defilement case has ruffled many feathers with the extortion ring matter taking centrestage, The chief magistrate has been accused of using proxies to reach the Turkish tycoon for a bribe of Sh5m in order to throw out the case and set him free.
Sources familiar with CCTV systems at one of the five-star hotels in Mombasa confided to Weekly Citizen the proxies met with the tycoon at the hotel and demanded for the bribe which he turned down saying that the law must take its course.
Since then the court proceedings have never been good for him with the chief magistrate being accused particularly by the accused and his three lawyers of an attempt to fabricate the case proceedings in favour of the prosecutor who is also claimed to be part and parcel of the syndicate.
Through affidavits seen by Weekly Citizen, the Turkish tycoon accused the chief magistrate and the prosecution team of being biased and altering of the court’s handwritten proceedings which appeared differently from the typed ones.
“I have also noted that courts handwritten proceedings have the same anomalies additions, gaps/dots, alterations and additions not supported by the witness testimonies,” Elsek said in his supporting affidavit.
The affidavit was supported by his lawyers Cliff Ombeta and Daniel Watmosa who also swore separate affidavits to up their complaints case against the magistrate’s conduct through the courts system.
The two lawyers further demanded through their affidavits that the magistrate and prosecutor handling the case be excused from handling the case and the case be transferred from Malindi to Shanzu where their client was first charged after his arrest early last year.
The Malindi chief magistrate has since been trying to redeem her tainted image from the extortion syndicate at the Malindi Law Courts but the tide seems to be turning heavily against her.
The fact that she allegedly enlisted brokers at her office together with a one Alice, the prosecutor handling the Turkish tycoon’s case to lure the accused persons for money before being freed or released on a lesser bond rates continues to haunt her with scores of litigants now demanding for their transfer or sacking.
The two have overstayed at the Malindi Law Courts for a period of nine years. They own expensive bungalows and slick vehicles known to have been purchased allegedly through money earned from bribery and extortion rackets.
Recently, the magistrate, a self-styled widow and a mother of five could not answer simple queries thrown to her by a team of members of JSC led by Chief Justice Maraga during the just-ended process of interviewing applicants seeking for appointments as High Court judges.
The magistrate would always brag that she was highly connected at JSC’s top hierarchy and that she is untouchable, with a number of lawyers and human rights defenders in Malindi blaming her on delayed justice and rot at the courts.