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Kenya: Tribunal finds a top judge is not above the law

Nancy Baraza, Kenya's deputy chief justice, was found guilty of 'gross misconduct.' Her case could set a precedent of reducing impunity for Kenyan government officials.

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Kenya’s second-most senior judge should be removed from office after allegedly threatening to shoot a security guard at an upscale Nairobi shopping mall, a tribunal ruled Monday. 

The panel, appointed by Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, said that Nancy Baraza, the country’s deputy chief justice, was guilty of “gross misconduct and misbehavior.” 

She had refused to be searched by Rebecca Kerubo, a female guard on duty at a security desk at the entrance of a shopping center popular among wealthy Kenyans, expatriates, and diplomats, on New Year’s Eve last year. 

During the argument that followed, Ms. Baraza reportedly pinched Ms. Kerubo’s nose, and then threatened to shoot her. 

The incident caused an uproar at the time, and the ongoing investigation has been seen by Kenyans as a true test of the country’s new constitution: its fairness, and its ability to ensure better conduct from public officials. 

It is expected that President Kibaki will follow the recommendations of the seven-member tribunal, led by Tanzania’s former chief justice, Augustino Ramadhani, and sack Baraza.

"The tribunal members have unanimously found that the conduct of the [deputy chief justice] on 31st December 2011 at the Village Market amounted to both gross misconduct and misbehavior," the panel ruled.

"She didn't carry herself in the manner anticipated by the Constitution and the Judicial Code of Conduct.

"Every single judge has a potential of preserving or tarnishing the integrity of the Judiciary on every occasion."


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