Nairobi: President Mwai Kibaki suspended Kenya`s deputy chief justice on Wednesday and named a tribunal to investigate an incident in which she allegedly threatened a shopping mall security guard with a pistol.
Kibaki`s move came after the senior judge called for his deputy to be suspended while under investigation in a case that is seen a test of whether confidence in the judiciary can be restored in the east African country, where the powerful are generally seen as being above the law.
It is also interesting as the attorney general said the finance minister, whom the International Court confirmed on Monday must face trial for crimes against humanity for election violence four years ago, can stay in office for now.
A gazette notice signed by Kibaki said the tribunal would be mandated to investigate the conduct of Nancy Baraza.
"In the meantime, Honourable Lady Justice Nancy Makokha Baraza, the Deputy Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Kenya stands suspended from exercising the functions of her office with immediate effect," the notice said.
Security guard Rebecca Morara had said Baraza had refused to be screened at the entrance to Nairobi`s upmarket Village Market shopping mall on New Year`s Eve. The guard said Baraza pinched her nose and threatened her with a pistol.
When the accusations first surfaced, Baraza said she had received threats since her appointment in June and had been concerned for her safety.
Security has been tightened at shopping malls and other public spots after Somalia`s al-Shabaab militants threatened to launch attacks in Kenya for sending troops across the border. Kenya accuses the Islamist militants of cross-border attacks and kidnappings.