Economy

How technology was deployed in Willy Kimani's murder case

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Peter Ngugi (left), Leonard Maina and Sylvia Wanjohi at the Milimani Court in Nairobi on September 20, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Exactly six years and one month ago, three people among them an advocate attached to the International Justice Mission disappeared never to be seen again.

The bodies of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and the taxi driver were found one week later stashed in gunny bags and thrown into a river near Donyo Sabuk. 

Their disappearance after attending a court case at Mavoko law courts caused a panic because both Mwenda and Kimani were under protection after receiving threats on several occasions. 

It later emerged that the three were kidnapped after leaving the court on June 23, 2016, in a well-planned move before they were locked at Mlolongo police station and later taken to an open field at night, and executed one after another.

During the trial before Justice Jessie Lesiit (now Court of appeal judge) the investigators relied heavily on technology to place the five accused persons- four police officers and an informer- at the scene of the crime or played a role in the murder. 

The police officers in the case are Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, and Leonard Maina Mwangi. Also facing charges is a police informer Peter Ngugi.

The prosecution tabled CCTV footage and car tracking devices, showing how Mr Kimani was picked by the taxi driver on that day somewhere in Westlands and headed all the way to Mavoko law courts, where he was scheduled to represent Mr Mwenda in a case.

After the case was concluded at around midday, the three were kidnapped and bundled into a waiting car and driven to Syokimau police post, where they were held for a few hours. The three made frantic efforts to catch the attention of passersby, with no success.

Another role of technology is the movement of police radio calls and mobile phones and how they were linked to the murders. 

Mr Kennedy Mwadime, an officer based at the communication command control center at Jogoo House explained the movement of the police radio believed to have been used by one of the police officers.

The officer showed nine locations including Mlolongo Police station, Syokimau Police Post, Mombasa road, Eastern bypass and Juja. The gadget, at some point is located at the killing site.

The court will also rely on DNA samples collected at the site where the three were killed. The samples were collected from cigarette butts, water and soda bottles as well as straws. 

The court will also rely on two confessions made by Mr Ngugi, one a few days after the killing and another in court during his defence hearing.

Mr Ngugi had opposed the use of the 21-page statement made before Chief Inspector Geoffrey Kinyua on August 9, 2016 at DCI headquarters, saying that he was tortured. Justice Lesiit, however rejected his claims. 

In the first confession, he narrated the role he played and that played by each of the officers in the killing and the promises made to him for cooperating. He also claimed he was induced with promises of a monthly fee of Sh30,000 plus other benefits if he cooperated with the police.

 During the second confession, Mr Kimani named five different officers, who are not implicated in the murder, and their roles in the killing and dumping of the bodies in the river. He also claimed he was bribed as the hearing was going on, so as not to name his co-accused.