Cord demands Kindiki quits over fugitive tycoon Devani
The opposition coalition Cord yesterday called on the Leader of the Majority in the Senate Kithure Kindiki to resign for defending fugitive tycoon Yagnesh Devani in a UK Court, while the Law Society of Kenya threatened disciplinary action against him. “This is not acceptable and should not be allowed. Kindiki should quit for supporting a criminal,” said Deputy Minority Leader in National Assembly Jakoyo Midiwo, speaking on behalf of Cord.
Kindiki appeared in court before and after elections as an expert witness for Devani who is wanted in Kenya on fraud charges. In 2008 Triton Petroleum, which is owned by Devani,stole Sh7.6 billion of oil from the Kenya Pipeline Company. A UK court on Tuesday dismissed Devani’s appeal against extradition to Kenya, saying he did not satisfy the court that he should be allowed to remain in Britain. In his UK testimony, Kindiki told the court that Kenya’s prisons were “dangerous and likely to be lifethreatening to Mr Devani.” He said prisons were violent and health conditions were dismal. The Kenyan judiciary was not independent, subject to political pressure and corrupt, he said.
Devani would not be accorded a fair trial in Kenya, he said. He admitted to the court that Devani had paid him to testify but said he could not remember how much. Yesterday Kindiki insisted that he did nothing wrong and said he had appeared in court as an expert witness. “A lawyer can never be asked to explain or justify why and how they have represented a client,” said Kindiki in a statement last evening. “Whatever I did was my own assessment of the Kenyan prison and judiciary at the time and whatever money I was paid was not a bribe. It was professional fees, which I cannot divulge, and only LSK is allowed to ask me how much I was paid,” Kindiki said.
But Law Society of Kenya chairman Eric Mutua said it will convene a meeting to discuss Kindiki. “Kindiki has no more moral authority to be in government and to purport to defend it. He misled the British court and being the Leader of Majority in the Senate, this suggests that the government was involved. It could be collusion of the highest order,” Mutua said. “We will examine the matter as LSK and Kindiki could face disciplinary proceedings because the matter borders on misconduct,” Mutua said. Yesterday Kindiki defended his decision saying he offered his legal opinion as a lawyer.
“You know I’m a practicing lawyer and you also understand the lawyer-client confidentiality issues. I did nothing wrong by appearing in court since the court had asked me to go and clarify a few issues, which I had raised in my legal opinion,” he told the Star. Kindiki said he has represented Devani for many years in Kenya and details of the matters he has handled, plus fees, are a matter of client-advocate confidentiality, for which he owes no body an apology or explanation.
“Concerning Devani’s extradition matter, I was asked to do a legal opinion on the state of Kenyan prisons, and in particular Kamiti Maximum security prison, against the benchmark of International Human Rights treaties to which Kenya is party. I was neither part of the defence team nor was I asked to comment on Devani’s criminality,” said Kindiki. He explained that he filed his report before elections and his appearance in court before and after he became Majority Leader was meant to clarify “certain things and conclusions arrived at in my report”.