The court has today acquitted reclusive billionaire businessman Humphrey Kariuki of some charges in the Tax evasion case owing to failure by the state to produce witnesses.
Senior Magistrate Kennedy Cheruiyot, on Tuesday, said the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has not availed evidence yet the case has been pending in court for 16 months.
Defence lawyers Kioko kilukumi, Cecil Miller and Philip Murgor had asked the court to invoke section 202 of the Criminal Procedure Code and acquit the accused.
“This court finds the DPP has not availed witnesses and l acquit the accused under section 202 of the CPC for want of prosecution,” ruled Mr Cheruiyot.
Kariuki has three different cases touching on tax evasion.
Two others are still pending before different magistrates.
The Case in a hurry
In August 2019, the Director of Public Prosecution successfully obtained court orders where by all properties belonging to tycoon Humphrey Kariuki would be preserved. Consequently, his bank accounts were frozen and all assets were impounded.
At the center of the case is the Africa Spirits Limited factory located in Thika. The plant was closed down in January 2019, marked as a crime scene and put under 24-hour police surveillance.
Charged alongside Stuart Gerald Herd , Robert Thinji Muriithi and two Africa Spirits Limited Directors, Mr Kariuki is battling 21 counts of tax evasion in a suspected Ksh 41 billion tax evasion scheme.
As the case progresses, some if the exhibits went missing and Mr Kariuki and his co-accused had urged the court to visit his factory for purposes of ascertaining as to what had really happened.
On Friday July 17, 2020 , the State lost an application that was directed to the court. The state had hoped to delay a visit the Africa Spirits Limited factory by seven more days.
The Prosecution team wanted the visit scheduled for July 20, 2020 delayed arguing that the Inspector General of Police Mr. Hillary Mutyambai needed more time to comply with COVID-19 guidelines from the Ministry of Health (MOH).
However, Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi of the Milimani Law courts dismissed the application for seven more days. Instead, he gave the prosecution team an extra day to implement the MOH guidelines. That meant that the visit slated for Monday, July 20, 2020 would take place on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at 2.00pm.
It became complicated due to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 containment measures.
However, today, the seized assets which included 28 vehicles belonging to 14 directors namely, Kariuki (one), Nyawira Kariuki (one), Margaret Karimi Mbaka (four), Alastair Mark Cavenagh (four), Matheka Oscar (one), Kepha Githu Gakure (two), Stuart Gerald Herd (five), Claudine Mathis (one), Susan Waithera Waithaka (two), Peter Shikari Menza (one motorcycle and three vehicles), Robert Thinji Muriithi (two) and Anne Wanjiru Ndung’u (one), seem to have been an exercise in showmanship by the state.
Was it all a witch hunt?
Sources intimate that Mr Kariuki fell into hot soup after he refused to offer chopper services to the mother of a top Jubilee politician.
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