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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Kenya wields axe on judges
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki
President Kibaki pledged to end corruption

Half of Kenya's most senior judges have been suspended as President Mwai Kibaki appoints two tribunals to investigate corruption allegations.

Local newspapers have printed the photographs and names of the 23 suspended judges.

The president said in a statement the tribunal would investigate "allegations that the said judges... have been involved in corruption, unethical practices and absence of integrity in the performance of the functions of their office".

A report released last month said corruption was rampant in the Kenyan legal system, with almost half of the country's judges and close to a third of its magistrates said to be corrupt.

President Kibaki, who was elected last year, vowed to rid the country of corruption to win back donor support and made cleaning up the judiciary a key target.

The International Monetary Fund stopped lending to Kenya three years ago because of the country's corruption.

Damning report

President Kibaki said the tribunal would investigate six of the country's nine judges in the Court of Appeals - the highest court - and 17 judges out of the 36 in the High Court.

The judges, who were named for the first time, have been suspended with immediate effect while the investigations are being conducted.

The tribunal investigating the High Court judges is to be chaired by influential Kenyan constitutional lawyer Lee Muthoga, while the panel investigating the Court of Appeal judges will be headed by prominent Ghanaian Judge Akilano Akiwumi.

The president's decision to name the tribunals came after the judges implicated in the Ringera report released at the end of September were given the option to either resign and leave quietly or be investigated by tribunals.

Officials say they have evidence corrupt judges took bribes from litigants to rule in their favour, delayed ruling on cases in return for bribes, had engaged in business outside the judiciary and were living beyond their known means.

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17 Jan 03  |  Africa

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