Homabay Member of Parliament Paul Opondo Kaluma at Milimani Law Court where he pleaded not guilty to three fraud charges relating to Sh10million land in Karen, Nairobi. (4/08/2014)
BY SAM ALFAN.
Homabay Member of Parliament Peter Kaluma Monday formally pleaded not guilty to three land fraud charges.
It is alleged that on diverse date between 26 January and 29 February, 2012, at unknown place within Nairobi jointly with others not before court, offered to sell land parcel No.5892/2 measuring one acre in Karen valued at Shs10million to Deborah Achieng Aduda.
The MP is further accused of obtaining Ksh.313, 000 between February 29 and April 17, 2012 from American attorney Constantine George Sphikas by offering to lease the land to him. He is alleged to have offered the same land for sale to Sphikas for Sh6.9million between February 28 and May 22, 2012.
He denied the three counts before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Annah Ndungu and was directed to post Sh50, 000 cash bail.
Last week, Kaluma unsuccessfully applied for the disqualification of Ndung’u after lawyer Harun Ndumbi accused the magistrate of alleged bias. But she said there were no compelling reasons to justify her recusal.
Kaluma on Wednesday asked Mrs Ndung’u to throw away the charges leveled against him saying the charges were defective.
The Homa Bay MP had appeared in court in the morning but declined to plead to nine counts of fraud in which he is accused of defrauding Deborah Achieng and Rene Johny Dierkx over a parcel of land situated in Karen, Nairobi.
State counsel Eddie Kadebe asked Kaluma to take his plea but he declined and through his lawyer he asked the court to make a determination since the prosecution had not tabled in court the High Court order issued by Justice Weldon Korir directing Kaluma to plead to the charges.
There was a heated exchange and altercation on Wednesday between the magistrate and Ndubi and at one time he asked the magistrate to record his submissions so that his protest can go on record.
Mrs Ndungu directed Kaluma to appear in court Wednesday in the afternoon to know whether he could plead to the charges or not.
In her ruling the magistrate directed Kaluma to plead to the nine counts of fraud charges but he declined.
“It appears to the defence that the magistrate is clearly biased against the suspect despite our preliminary objection on the inadmissibility of the charges leveled against my client. The court cannot therefore proceed to give directions that seem to determine the outcome of this case.” Ndubi.
The lawyer further said that, “When the court demands that the suspect should take plea yet the defence has stated that the charge sheet has failed to have particular details then the court has failed to allow a fair trial and I ask the magistrate to disqualify herself from this matter,”
Ndubi said it was prejudicial for the magistrate to state that the MP had used his status to delay the case. Ndubi accused the prosecution of not supplying the defence with all the evidence that it seeks to rely on during trial.
He said it was prejudicial for the chief magistrate to state that Kaluma has used his status to delay the case.
However the state counsel said the accused was at liberty to contest the effectiveness of the charges at any time once the accused takes his plea saying the ruling by the magistrate that the accused pleads to the charges was in good faith.
“It is still the prosecution’s position that the charges presented in court are correct and the averments by the defence lawyer are not properly before this court”. Said Ndubi.
The magistrate directed the matter to be heard from 3 to 7 of November 2014.