Four Kenyan police officers, suspected to have killed human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and his client and their driver were charged with the murder at a court in Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Senior Sergeant Fredrick Leliman, Sergeant Leonard Mwangi Maina, Corporal Stephen Cheburet Morogo and Constable Silvia Wanjiku Wanjohi were being arraigned in court to face three counts of murder charges.
All four pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Jessie Lessit on Monday gave the prosecution a month to piece together all the proofs it has so far against the four in the next court appearance.
The Justice said the time will be enough for them to gather their witnesses and substantial exhibits needed for the trial. She also said the prosecution can also decide which of the witnesses they would wish to call for their case, as she looks at the great public interest this case has generated.
Justice Lessit set the mention date for August 16 and directed Leliman, Maina, and Morogo be remanded at the Industrial Area Remand Prison while Wanjiku will be detained at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison.
“I am giving the prosecution the chance to prepare their case within the period of one month which they have requested and I am also making a further order that the bail application if any and the hearing date will be considered at a later date.”
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Mutuku stated that they already have about 45 witnesses that will testify over a period of three weeks in the case which has seen lawyers protesting against extra-judicial killings.
He told the court:
“There are quite a huge number of statements which are being typed and my lady we are going to compile the bundle together with other pieces of evidence that will accompany the same and provide them to the defence. That will happen in a month’s time.”
Video Source: Capital FM
The lawyer representing the four officers Cliff Ombeta maintained that he is doing so because he believes in the rule of law even though his colleagues have been tongue-lashing him.
Ombeta claimed that he had not received any money from the four suspects and that his role as their lawyer would ensure the case progressed smoothly.
“I am standing tall today and with my pride intact. This is because I am the only one on that particular day out of the 12,000 lawyers in this country who stood by the law. It is an oath of office which says that you shall do your case without fear or favour. If we want justice for the families and you cannot represent these people, the case can never start. This is what the lawyers were forgetting.”
He further said that suspects are assumed to be innocent until proven guilty and the four had not been tried yet.
“If the police are lacking evidence, let the innocent people go. Do your investigations. Do not rush it because there is public interest. Do not rush it because of public interest but if you have evidence, bring it on.”
He however pointed out that he is against extra-judicial killings and participated in the demonstrations by lawyers although he had a placard written ‘Justice for All.’
Mr Kimani disappeared after lodging a complaint against a police officer on behalf of his client Josephat Mwendwa.
The three men were tortured before being killed.
The Law Society of Kenya called on all lawyers to boycott courts and there were nationwide protests following the murders. Police spokesman was forced to join the protest with lawyers pouring him red paint that symbolized blood.
The killings sparked outrage in Kenya and many blamed the police force for a series of extrajudicial killings in recent years. The police officers will remain in custody whilst authorities complete their investigation.