NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – Three police officers arrested over the disappearance of a lawyer, his client and a taxi driver will now face murder charges after bodies of the three victims were found dumped in a river in Kilimambogo.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet on Friday revealed that “there is circumstantial evidence linking the three officers to the murders”.
“They will face charges including murder,” Boinnet said, “Their behavior is not representative of the National Police Service.”
Bodies of the three, Willie Kimani (lawyer at International Justice Mission), Josephat Mwenda (client) and Joseph Muiruri (taxi driver) were discovered by villagers when they washed up on Ol Donyo Sabuk River on Thursday and Friday.
They were tied up with ropes, while some had their fingers chopped off and eyes gorged out, an indication that they were tortured before they were killed.
Records at the City Mortuary indicated that they were taken there at 8:15am Friday, having been recovered on Thursday evening. They were marked as unknown male African adults, but they were later identified by relatives as those of the three missing persons.
Kimani was representing a boda boda rider (Mwenda) who had sued an Administration Police officer for assault and attempted murder after allegedly shooting at him, leaving him with injuries.
On Thursday June 23, the lawyer had gone to Mavoko Law Courts for the proceedings of the case while accompanied by Mwenda.
They were being driven by taxi driver Muiruri when they were all abducted on Mombasa Road and taken into an Administration Police camp in Syokimau, according to investigations so far, which has shown that that was their last known location, before they went missing.
They were however, not booked in the Occurrence Book as suspects or for any other reason as required in the Police Standing Orders.
The vehicle they were using was later recovered on the Nairobi-Naivasha Highway days later.
It is the recovery of their vehicle that prompted a massive search after their family members reported them missing.
While at the AP camp, the lawyer is said to have scribbled his wife’s number on a paper which he threw out of the window to people who were outside, with instructions that they inform his wife of his detention.
“The paper was later handed over to other police officers at the station and is part of the evidence, because a government document examiner has confirmed that the handwriting belong to the lawyer,” a police officer privy to the investigation told Capital FM News, pleading to remain anonymous because he is not authorised to brief the media on an active investigation.
CID officers who examined the phone records of the three filed a report showing that their mobile phones’ signals picked up last in three different locations – two in Nairobi and another in Western Kenya.
It is believed that the one found in Western Kenya was delivered there by a courier to misdirect investigations when their search commences as part of ruining evidence.
“The other two (phones) must have been dropped intentionally. These are people who knew well what they were doing and were erasing evidence from the beginning,” our source said.
On Thursday bodies of the three washed up in the river, but only two were retrieved. The third was retrieved on Friday morning.
“The bodies are in a very bad state and it seems they were tortured ruthlessly before they were killed,” lawyer Duncan Kinuthia who saw the bodies told Capital FM News outside the City Mortuary.
“I was in school with Willie Kimani, he was my senior and having known him for long, I can say that he is the one.”
Police have said they have evidence the Administration Police officer who had been sued by the lawyer’s client in the case they were pursuing at Mavoko Law courts was involved in the abduction and killing.
“There is no doubt; there is evidence to that effect. We are building up a very strong case,” one CID officer told us.
The Inspector General of Police denied claims that the murder of the three is proof that there are execution squads in the force he leads.
“I reject claims there are death squads in police. These are rogue officers just like any society with rogue people,” he said, while assuring that “police will ensure justice for all.”
But the Law Society of Kenya which held protests in Nairobi on Wednesday is not convinced, and has already mobilised its members to down tools for one week from Monday.
“Mr Joseph Nkaissery the Interior Cabinet Secretary must step aside, we demand that this must happen immediately, failure to which the Law Society of Kenya will petition for that in court,” LSK Chairman Isaack Okero told journalists outside the Milimani Law courts after attending proceedings of a case in which they were demanding orders to have police compelled to produce the three “dead or alive” before they were found.
The US-based International Justice Mission (IJM) where the lawyer worked also condemned the killings, and demanded justice for their families.
“We are very angered and sad about this incident,” IJM Kenya Field Office Director Claire Wilkinson said.
“I do not think the police as the entire institution is rogue, I believe there is hope for police. But I believe there is a pattern of abuse that is beginning to emerge for example from the Administration Police,” she said.