On Thursday, the missing Nairobi lawyer, Willie Kimani, started the day like every other. He bathed and slayed in his gray trousers, jungle-green jacket and black shoes and said goodbye to his wife and two young sons. Little did he know that he will never return alive to his family.
Before the quarter of the day passed an incident with unsettling end came to light; Mr. Kimani, who worked as a human rights defender since he graduated from law school five years ago, got kidnapped after he accompanied a client to trial in a case involving a police officer.
The missing Nairobi lawyer who had been working as an investigator with an American legal aid group, had been on the case of a young motorcycle taxi driver who by accident got shot in the arm by a police officer last year.
The boda boda driver, Josephat Mwenda, sued the officer, whose identity has not been announced. In a bid to even the score, the officer with his colleague made several false accusations against Mr. Mwenda, including drug counts and accusations of petty crimes like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, according to human rights activists.
On Thursday, the court heard testimonies from several witnesses and then the court broke off the case to resume at noon. Mr. Kimani and his client left the courtroom situated on the outskirts of Nairobi, in a taxi. Since then, the whereabouts of the men could not be determined.
His colleagues say Mr. Mwenda’s wife received a strange phone call, around 4:30 p.m. Thursday. A passer-by happened to stumble upon two men, perhaps more, confined in a metal container on a police base screaming through a barred window for help.
The men tossed out a note that was written hurriedly on toilet paper. The note was from Mr. Mwenda. It read: Call my wife. I’m in danger. Since then, nobody heard anything again from the missing Nairobi lawyer or other men who were kidnapped along with him. Their number could not be reached because they were off. The officers at the base denied having seen the men.
The taxi was found the next morning miles away from where the men had last been seen, abandoned on a lonely road with the doors locked.
On Wednesday, dozens of young lawyers protested on the steps of Kenya’s Supreme Court, demanding that government to immediately open an independent investigation and make a full report public by next week.
The Law Society of Kenya ( LSK) asked the government to produce missing human rights lawyer Willie Kimani dead or alive. The LSK said rogue police officers abducted the trio.
Police did not say much on the issue except that an elite unit known as the Flying Squad, which is widely suspected of engaging in extrajudicial killings in the past is looking into the case.
This morning, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet ordered the arrest of the rogue police officers suspected to have carried out the crime.
Also, on Friday morning, two bodies believed to be those of missing Nairobi lawyer, the taxi driver, and his client, were found in Oldonyo Sabuk River, Kilimabogo.
The bodies were stuffed in sacks with heads covered in polythene bags. A police source told the media that the victims seem to have been suffocated first before being dumped. Their heads were tucked in yellow plastic bags and one of them had his eyes scooped out. The second body, Mr Kinuthia said, was beaten up, had an ear missing and the hands were tied with a sisal rope.
The bodies found had no shoes but were still looking smartly neat. The third body suspected to be that of lawyer Willie Kimani is said to have slipped into the river but was later recovered.
The bodies retrieved were dumped in the mortuary where an attendants said their hands were tied behind their backs when they arrived.
The records at the morgue show that the cause of their deaths was drowning.
Law Society of Kenya advocate Dan Kinuthia said the two were beaten severely and choked to death. He added that the bodies are swollen and are beyond recognition.
According to him, he was able to identify the lawyer because he was his friend. “He was a tiny guy but his body is too swollen … likely they killed him a long time ago,” he said outside the mortuary.
International bodies are interested in the case. Hours after the three men disappeared, the American Embassy in Nairobi received a good number of messages from Washington asking diplomats to look into the case.
American law enforcement agents based in Nairobi are also involved in the ongoing investigations on the matter. American diplomats, along with counterparts from Britain and several other Western nations, are pressuring high levels of the Kenyan government to take the case seriously.