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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 19:54 GMT 20:54 UK
Kenya's Saitoti escapes charges
George Saitoti
Saitoti has denied wrongdoing in the Goldenberg affair
Kenyan former Vice-President George Saitoti should not be charged over the country's biggest financial scandal, the Kenyan High Court has ruled.

The court rejected the conclusions of an earlier commission of inquiry that recommended Mr Saitoti's prosecution over the so-called Goldenberg affair.

The $1bn scam in the 1990s involved government payments to a company for non-existent gold and diamond exports.

Mr Saitoti was serving at the time as finance minister and vice-president.

The court ruled that Mr Saitoti had been acting according to procedure when he approved a payment to the firm Goldenberg International.

The court also noted the attorney-general had cleared Mr Saitoti of wrongdoing in a statement that he issued in parliament more than a decade ago.

'Happiest day'

"Today marks my happiest day in the last 16 years because during that period I have gone through much pain and suffering," Mr Saitoti said after the judgement.

Both Mr Saitoti and former President Daniel arap Moi, in whose administration he served, have denied any knowledge of the scam.

In February, Mr Saitoti resigned as education minister in the current administration, after being named in a report by a commission of inquiry into the Goldenberg affair.

The commission of inquiry led to the prosecution in March this year of six people - including a former intelligence chief and a former central bank governor - who are now on bail.

The Goldenberg scandal is one of two huge corruption cases which has put President Mwai Kibaki under pressure to keep his 2002 election promises of fighting graft.

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