MURDER TRIAL

Accused in Willie Kimani takes stand to defend himself

Judge Jessie Lessit last week ruled the officers have a case to answer

In Summary

• Cheburet got himself in trouble several times when he was asked to explain inconsistencies in his statement and information recorded in the OB. 

• He said on the date Willie was abducted, he was not on duty.

Administration Police Officers Leonard Mwangi, Stephen Cheburet and Fredrick Leliman before Lady Justice Jessie Lessit at Milimani High Court on September 20, 2021.
Administration Police Officers Leonard Mwangi, Stephen Cheburet and Fredrick Leliman before Lady Justice Jessie Lessit at Milimani High Court on September 20, 2021.
Image: ENIS TECHE

One of the Administration Police officers believed to have played a major role in the murder of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani Monday made attempts to clear his alleged involvement.

Last week, the court ruled that enough evidence had been placed by the prosecution linking Stephen Cheburet and his co-accused to the 2016 murders.

However, Cheburet on Monday found himself in trouble several times when he was asked to explain inconsistencies in his statement and information recorded in the Occurrence Book at Syokimau police post where he worked.

Cheburet said on the date Willie was abducted, he was not on duty.

“I woke up that morning, prepared myself and left for Athi River at 7.30am. I had some personal errands to run. At around 9:50 am, I got a call from madam Sylvia Wanjiku,” he said.

Wanjiku is also an accused person in the case.

Cheburet said when the call came in, he was at the Makadara stage in Athi River.

“She told me she needed cooking gas and wanted me to take her where I bought mine. I bought it at City Cabanas. I got to Cabanas but I did not see her. It was raining. But I later spotted her with an umbrella after giving her a call,” he said. 

However, all this information was not booked in the occurrence book.

The OB also indicated that the weather was cold and chilly and not rainy as claimed. 

The two later proceeded to the post at around noon.

Some of the errands Cheburet had for that day, which he did not name,  did not materialise.

They both decided to go back to the post after doing some shopping within the area.

“I later decided to relax. I didn’t leave the post until 6pm,” he said.

“Is it normal that you stayed all those hours in the house and did not leave?” the prosecution said. 

"Yes, I was mourning. I had lost my mother and wife to my son," he responded.

“What about the 36 phone calls you made that day yet you mentioned your phone switched off because of battery? lawyer Fred Ojiambo for the victims asked. 

Cheburet said the phone calls could have been more than that because of the funeral arrangements.

He also said the phone calls were made earlier in the day.

The court also heard he did not know Fredrick Leliman, the first accused in the case, and only got to know him during their stay at Kamiti after they were charged.

The state and lawyers for the victims said they found it hard to believe that as the witness worked hand in hand with officers at the Mlolongo police station where Fredrick Leliman was posted.

“The only person I knew out of all the accused persons in the case was madam Sylvia because we worked together,” he said.

Cheburet also denied being in charge of the post, saying there were three officers senior to him.

In the case, Willie Kimani, his client Josphat Mwenda and their driver Joseph Muiruri were abducted on June 23, 2016, shortly after leaving Mavoko law courts in Athi River, where they were pursuing a case against the police. 

Last week, four police officers and a civilian charged with the murder were put on their defense after judge Jessie Lessit ruled they have a case to answer.

The case proceeds today.