SECURITY FEARS

Three witnesses in Tecra death inquest to testify in secret

Court grants DPP request to guarantee the security of the witnesses from Lamu.

In Summary
  • Milimani principal magistrate Zainab Abdul ruled that the application by the prosecution was merited on the security of the witnesses from Lamu. 
  • They are two nurses and Tecra's friend, all from Lamu community. 
Tecra Karanja and Omar Lali.
Tecra Karanja and Omar Lali.
Image: COURTESY

Three witnesses from Lamu testifying in the death inquest of Keroche heir Tecra Muigai will be heard in camera. 

Milimani principal magistrate Zainab Abdul ruled that the application by the prosecution was merited on the security of the witnesses from Lamu. 

"I have considered the application by the prosecution and all parties to safeguard the witnesses. The concerns are merited," the magistrate said. 

The DPP had sought to have the case heard behind closed doors, citing the security of the witnesses.

The court heard that the three witnesses were present in court and ready to testify. 

They are two nurses and Tecra's friend, all from Lamu community. 

Omar Lali, who is the key suspect, was not present in court but was represented by his lawyer. 

"I have an application to have the matter heard in camera because the witnesses reside in Lamu and they are apprehensive that their security maybe jeopardised if their names and pictures appear in media,” the prosecution counsel Peter Muia said. 

Lawyer Elisha Ongoya representing Tecra's family agreed with the DPP, saying Lamu is a very small community where the witnesses come from and they interact in society. 

He said that the application is limited to the three witness who come from Lamu and not all the witnesses in the case.

Tecra, the daughter of Keroche Breweries boss Tabitha Karanja, died on May 2 last year at the Nairobi Hospital after she allegedly fell down steep stairs at a house in Lamu.

Her then-boyfriend Omar Lali was arrested and kept in custody but the DPP dropped the murder case against him in July and ordered an inquest.  

Six witnesses who carried Tecra to the hospital are expected to testify before magistrate Abdul.

Qusai Lali Omar, Ali Bakari Muhammed, Abdul Lali Omar, Yaya Salim Muhammed, Ahemed Ali Sali and Mohammed Omar Muhanji were summoned by the magistrate after they declined to board a van sent by the DPP to testify.

Abdul had also summoned Lali to appear for the next hearing either in person or through an advocate, as he might be a witness in the inquest.

So far, 11 of 44 witnesses have testified, including Tecra's mother Tabitha, brother James Karanja and house help Anne Waithera.

In March, the court heard Tecra was threatened by her lover Omar Lali on two separate occasions.

This was according to her driver and bodyguard in his testimony to the court.

The former employee claimed Lali threatened Tecra in Dar-es-Salaam and again in Lamu.

Eric Cheruiyot, a former Kenya Defence Forces officer, said for the nine months he worked for Tecra, she never lived peacefully with her lover.

He said he witnessed many incidents of confrontation and that their relationship knew no peace.

Cheruiyot said he accompanied Tecra and Lali on their tours to Nyeri, Meru, Nanyuki, Kisumu and Lamu.

He said most of the time Lali would retreat to a solitary table then stay alone for many hours while Tecra would join his friends for business engagements, which annoyed her lover.

At one time, the Naivasha house help of Tecra found him crying in the morning with his luggage thrown outside.

“I asked the house help why Lali was crying then she told me he had been kicked out of the Naivasha residence of Tecra,” Cheruiyot testified.

The magistrate heard that Tecra once slapped Lali outside a Naivasha hotel when he refused to board her vehicle to proceed to another hotel where she was to meet some friends.

“Tecra grabbed Lali’s shirt and forced him to board their vehicle, but he resisted. It’s then I heard Tecra unleash a heavy slap on Lali then he boarded the vehicle,” Cheruiyot recounted.

He recalled that Lali had warned Tecra against meeting two friends whom he claimed were not good people.