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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Half of Kenya's judges 'corrupt'
President Mwai Kibaki
President Mwai Kibaki has promised tough action on corruption
Half of Kenya's judges and nearly a third of its magistrates are corrupt, according to a committee investigating the Kenyan judiciary.

The committee, itself led by a judge, gathered evidence against five of the country's nine judges in the court of appeals - Kenya's highest court - and against 18 of the 36 in the high court.

"Corruption has resulted in a loss of confidence in the judiciary as an institution," said Justice Aaron Ringera, head of the committee.

The judges accused of corruption were not identified publicly.

But under Kenyan law the chief justice will have to ask President Mwai Kibaki to appoint a tribunal for each of the 23 judges to further investigate them and to recommend the action to be taken against them.

The report came a day after the president submitted a statement of his wealth as part of a government drive against corruption.

President Kibaki promised tough action on corruption after his election in December 2002, but in recent days his record on the issue has come under the spotlight.

Credible evidence

Justice Ringera said there was credible and substantial evidence of corruption, unethical conduct and other forms of misbehaviour against 152 of Kenya's 300 judges and magistrates.

"We are, metaphorically speaking, presenting to you a dragon....it is bound to snort, kick and jump and even attack, for corruption always fights back," Justice Ringera told Chief Justice Evans Gicheru, who ordered the probe.

Justice Gicheru said that corruption was a beast which, as he put it, the judiciary was determined to wrestle to the ground.

Since Justice Gicheru became chief justice in March, more than 10 magistrates have either been sacked for corruption or incompetence, or resigned.

More than 50 court clerks and other judicial staff have also been fired for corruption.

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