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Cohen to be buried Monday as widow, sister agree on joint participation

His burial is however pegged on four conditions that his widow Sarah Wairimu (left) and Cohen’s sister Gabrie Van Straten (right) have set, ahead of obtaining a court order for them to be enforced/FILE – Sam Wanjohi

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 19 – Slain Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen will be buried on Monday, at a Jewish Community cemetery in Nairobi.

Lawyers representing the widow and Cohen’s sister said the ritual will be a private ceremony open to members of the family.

His burial is however pegged on four conditions that his widow Sarah Wairimu and Cohen’s sister Gabrie Van Straten have set, ahead of obtaining a court order for them to be enforced.

The conditions, according to Wairimu through her lawyer Phillip Murgor include barring friends from attending the burial set to take place at the Jewish Cemetery on Wangari Mathai Road at 2 pm.

Also, as a part of the conditions include guaranteed burial participation for Wairimu, who is being held in remand prison pending September 26, when she will plead to a murder charge.

Lawyer Cliff Ombeta said Cohen’s sister had agreed to Wairimu’s participation in the funeral.

“The burial ceremony will be private and for family members only. Sarah and Gabrie will participate as widow and sister, respectively,” Murgor, who read a joint statement said.

Ombeta said they are not opposed to Wairimu attending the burial of her late husband.

“It will not benefit either of the party if we start having tags of war of who owns Cohen’s body. Cohen deserves to have a dignified burial,” Lawyer Ombeta said.

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The two lawyers addressed journalists on Thursday after holding a meeting in a city hotel, meant to iron out pertinent issues that emerged on Wednesday, that would have seen the burial delayed due to a contest on Cohen’s body.

On Wednesday, Wairimu through Murgor wrote to Chiromo Funeral Parlour, asking them not to release Cohen’s body to his sister.

Wairimu said she was the only person legally allowed to decide on when and how Cohen should be buried.

Cohen’s body underwent an autopsy on Wednesday, in a bid to establish what killed him and the probable time.

The exercise was led by Chief Government Pathologist Dr Johansen Odour, in the presence of his counterparts representing Wairimu and Cohen’s sister.

Wairimu witnessed the autopsy after a court order directing prison authorities to avail her was issued early on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a government pathologist Dr Peter Njenga was rejected by Wairimu through lawyer Murgor over remarks he is accused of having made at the scene of the crime in Kitisuru about the condition of Cohen’s body.

The disagreement prompted the postponement of an autopsy initially slated for Tuesday.

He agreed to step down, prompting the postponement of the exercise to Wednesday to be conducted by Dr Oduor who said they had managed to make “many findings” but were not made public due to a restricting court order issued early this week.

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Wairimu was arrested more than two weeks ago, after Cohen went missing in July.

She initially claimed in statements to the police that Cohen might have travelled abroad for medical treatment, but Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said her version on the sequence of events was not adding up, leading to her detention.

The prosecution later presented her in court with a charge sheet on Cohen’s murder, but she could not plead because she had not undergone a mental assessment.

Cohen’s body was also yet to be found, with her lawyer Murgor accusing the DCI of charging her without a “shred of evidence”.

Nonetheless, the court ordered she be remanded at the Lang’ata Women’s prison awaiting the charges.

But before she could undergo the mental assessment or take plea, Cohen’s body was discovered at his home on September 13, dumped in an underground water tank.

The DCI has said they have sufficient evidence to charge her with Cohen’s murder and are even detaining a man said to be her close associate, who has been placed at the centre of the crime scene.

Police were given until October 4, to finalize investigations on his alleged involvement, while Wairimu is due back in court on September 26 to plead to a murder charge.

Cohen is a former Chief Executive Officer of Dutch conglomerate Philips East Africa who has lived in Kenya for many years and was lately known for organizing golf tournaments.

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