Willy Kimani murder trial in camera to protect witness

Police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet and Fredrick Leliman at the Milimani law courts, Nairobi, on July 4, 2016 / REUTERS
Police officers Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Chebulet and Fredrick Leliman at the Milimani law courts, Nairobi, on July 4, 2016 / REUTERS

The high-profile murder trial against four police officers and an informer accused of killing human rights lawyer Willy Kimani, his client and taxi driver, resumed yesterday in private.

Justice Jessie Lessit barred journalists, court orderlies, relatives of the victims and suspects and the general public from sitting in the courtroom until key witnesses who have been placed under the protection programme testify in camera.

The prosecution has already called two key witnesses, among them a man who claimed Kimani threw to him a tissue paper allegedly with a message that they were in “danger”.

The prosecution said it had two more witnesses who “cannot testify in public as they are fearful for their lives”.

“This is not the first time we are holding the sessions in camera to protect the identity of witnesses. We have already called two witnesses and two others are remaining,” Nicholas Mutuko said.

Only the accused persons, the court clerk, defence lawyer Cliff Ombeta, Law Society of Kenya representative Albert Sihanya and the victims’ lawyer Fred Ojiambo were left in the courtroom at the Milimani law courts.

Also allowed in as observers were two representatives from the American Bar Association, one of them a judge.

The prosecution told the court that although they have listed about 40 witnesses in the case, they will be calling about 35 witnesses, who they believe will convince court to find the five suspects guilty of killing Kimani, his client Josphat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

AP officers Fredrick Leliman, Leonard Maina, Stephen Chebulet and Silvia Wanjiku, and suspected informer Peter Kamau have denied the cold-blooded murder of the three men, whose bodies were found stashed in gunny bags a week after they went missing .

Kimani and the two men had attended a case at the Mavoko law courts on June 23, after which they were allegedly abducted. Their bodies were found dumped in Oldonyo Sabuk River.

Kimani, a lawyer with the International Justice Mission, was representing Mwenda in a case in which he had sued Leliman for attempted murder.

A witness said that on June 23, he saw Leliman at the Mavoko law courts before Kimani, Mwendwa and Muiruri disappeared.

“Sgt Leliman used his car to block the road, making it difficult for the deceased to drive on,” he said.

The prosecutor said, “Kamau spilled the beans how the victims were killed.”

The hearing resumes tomorrow.