News / Africa

Kenya's Deputy Chief Justice Suspended, Being Investigated

Nancy Baraza takes oath of office as the new Deputy Chief Justice during the swearing-in ceremony at State House, Nairobi, Kenya. (File Photo - June 20, 2011)
Nancy Baraza takes oath of office as the new Deputy Chief Justice during the swearing-in ceremony at State House, Nairobi, Kenya. (File Photo - June 20, 2011)

Kenya’s deputy chief justice was suspended Friday following allegations of misconduct, stemming from a confrontation with a mall security guard on New Year's Eve.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga told reporters in Nairobi that his deputy, Nancy Baraza, will undergo further investigations, as recommended by the Judicial Service Commission, or JSC.

“After lengthy deliberation, evaluation of witness testimonies, and other material evidence submitted the JSC has now resolved that pursuant to Article 168 (4) it will send a petition to the president with a view of suspending Justice Nancy Baraza as a judge of the Supreme Court and Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya and to appoint a tribunal to investigate her conduct," said Mutunga.

Friday’s announcement was based on the findings of a seven-member committee that the Judicial Service Commission formed earlier this week to investigate Baraza’s case.

The deputy chief justice stands accused of misconduct over an incident in an upscale Nairobi shopping mall on December 31.

Security guard Rebecca Kerubo says that Baraza walked through a security check at the mall without being screened and, when confronted, pinched Kerubo’s nose and spoke sharply to her. Baraza then allegedly asked her bodyguard to shoot Kerubo, and, when the bodyguard refused to do so, pointed a pistol at Kerubo herself.

Baraza issued a statement January 4 verifying that there was what she termed an “unfortunate incident” at the mall but saying that she meant no intention of “high-handedness, arrogance or ill will.”

Baraza explained in her statement that she had encountered what she called a “number of security incidents,” and that, in her words, “threats of violence have been directed at me and I have had to request increased security measures for my office as well as my own personal security.”

The incident was also brought before the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko as a criminal case. Tobiko announced Thursday that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Baraza on gun charges, noting that CCTV footage did not capture the alleged gun-pointing.

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