The High Court in Kenya has temporarily halted criminal proceedings against the deputy Supreme Court justice who was arrested on Tuesday.
Judge Philomena Mwilu was charged on suspicion of corruption, failure to pay taxes and improper dealings with a local bank.
Judge Chacha Mwita said: “I allow the application filed by deputy chief justice (Philomena Mwilu) seeking to stop proceedings in the lower court and I hereby grant a stay, meaning stopping the case.”
Judge Mwilu’s defense
In her application, Judge Mwilu argued that her alleged impropriety while handling Imperial Bank cases is purely a commercial matter and not a criminal offence.
Through her lawyers, Judge Mwilu says the Chief Public Prosecutor Noordin Mohamed Haji was motivated by malice, arguing that the allegations are part of a larger scheme to embarrass her as the country’s second top judge.
Judge Mwita ruled that the case raised constitutional issues.
“The charges facing the deputy chief justice are over a commercial transaction between her and a private institution … the court needs to determine whether that amounts to a criminal offence.”
Judge Mwilu was charged on Tuesday evening, hours after being arrested, and released on a personal bondof 5 million Kenyan shillings ($49,640).
The government launched a new anti-graft push this year in East Africa’s richest economy per capita led by Haji, a former deputy head of national intelligence, who has brought criminal charges against dozens of civil servants and business people.
The detention of the deputy chief justice is the highest profile case since a series of corruption-related arrests began several months ago.