PCEA Assembly Rejects Out-Of-Court Settlement For Sh40m Theft Case

A Kiambu court was on Tuesday told that the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA) general assembly rejected an out-of-court settlement for the Sh40 million theft case.

In the case, former moderator David Gathanju and James Muiruri and Peter Mwangi – former PCEA church employees, were charged with stealing the money.

They told senior principal magistrate Stella Atambo that the church has declined to have the matter settled as directed as “it is out of their hand and should continue in court”.

“The issue of alternative dispute resolution is out of the question since the church’s general assembly met and said that there is nothing they can do,” lawyer Kimani Wakimaa said.

Atambo had earlier on allowed for the accused person to meet with the church and solve the matter.

However, the meeting did not take place as all parties started pointing fingers at who was to initiate the meeting first, hence the lapse of the alternative dispute resolution deadlines.

The prosecution led by counsel Christine Mbevi had told the court they would amend the charge sheet to add more charges of forgery against the accused.

The team also said they will ensure the charge sheet reflects the correct amount of money lost.

The court ordered that the prosecution do so and also present the victims in court and further ADR initiative still stood.

Counsels Gibson Kamau Kuria and Kimamo Muchiri, appearing for the church, raised concerns over contempt over an article which was published in the gutter press.

They argued that the article was likely meant to intimidate the church over the court case.

Former Justice Robert Mutito, Lawyers Dunstan Omari, and John Njuguna, who are representing the accused, told the court that the publication had nothing to do with their clients.

They said the defence team was wasting court time with sideshows adding that the DPP has the mandate to take action on the said publication.

Rev Gathanju served the church between 2009 and 2015.

Together with James Muiruri, Esther Wanjiku, Peter Mwangi and Stephen Kamau, they were charged with theft of Sh39.9 million between January 2016 and June 2017.

They are accused that while at PCEA headquarters in South C, they stole the money belonging to the church and also conspired to commit a felony against the church.

Wanjiku and Kamau were, however, acquitted of the charges.

The case hearing resumes on August 7 with a pre-trial conference slated for July 6.

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