NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 14 – Minutes after the Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen’s body was moved by police to the morgue, a nauseating stench engulfed his expansive Kitisuru residence.
It is right inside Cohen’s posh house, that he breathed his last and at the right corner of his compound, his body was stashed inside an underground water tank, some 60 days ago, marking the beginning of a mystery.
And according to his relatives and friends, Cohen knew he will die, only that he was not sure of when, where and how.
On the day his body was found, man’s best friend – some two German Shephard’s – could be seen from one of the balconies watching keenly, as detectives walked up and down the compound, with masks covering their mouth and nose; no one knows the secrets they hold.
It is a mystery that not even the CCTV cameras erected within the gated compound could not provide any leads, since according to detectives, they were only set up after Cohen was killed.
– There is no perfect murder –
While his executors were certain that no traces were left, a speck of evidence grew just like a mustard seed and on Friday, all were put bare for the world to see.
“They took their time, to kill innocent Cohen,” a visibly emotional Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti told a battery of journalists, shortly after the body was retrieved.
“I don’t have enough words to describe it. Cohen was murdered in his own residence. It was a gruesome murder.”
Cohen’s decomposing body was found blindfolded with hands and legs tightly tied together. It was then wrapped in a red cloth and on top, a blanket.
He was still in the blue and white jeans he was wearing, on the day he was reported missing.
And the motive, Kinoti said, is obvious, without divulging more details since Cohen’s wife Susan Wairimu and another suspect who is in police custody are set to face murder charges.
It is the knowledge that “there is no perfect murder” that drove Kenyans detectives to unravel what was a mystery for two months.
“We never wanted to leave anything to chance … whatsoever. We widened our net, as much as we could, to make sure that this crime scene is not tampered with at all. Always, as investigators we know, there is no perfect time. A speck, to a keen detective, is always left and spotted and it opens to us the whole world,” Kenya’s top detective asserted.
According to detectives, the lid covering an opening to the water tank had “fresh” cement” and in an attempt to conceal the murder, it had been covered with tree branches.
– Cohen knew he was to die –
“I have seen his body, it is terrible and I do not know the kind of cruelty he went through,” an emotional Cohen’s sister who flew to the country from the Netherlands, Gabrie Van Struaten told journalists.
On the day her family was told that Cohen was missing, she admitted telling her husband that … ” they have killed him.”
“I told my husband that Cohen had been killed,” she narrated, but her husband would try to convince that “maybe, he is just playing golf somewhere and he will be back home soon.”
She seemed lost for words having lost his brother under the cruel hands of his tormentors. “My brother … was even more Kenyan than most of you journalists here … had refused to go back to his country,” said a distraught Gabrie.
– Cohen was very concerned about his life –
But it is his friend of 22 years, Patrick Muiruri who is also the former Gatundu North Member of Parliament, who revealed details of Cohen’s troubled relationship with his wife Wairimu.
He recalled that they had played golf together, Cohen’s best game, just before he ‘disappeared.’
The last talk with Cohen, Muiruri said, was on the night he was killed from 9.45 to some minutes after 10 pm.
“He was very concerned about his life. He never hid the fact that if he is found dead anywhere, Sarah his wife, would be responsible. He had complained to authorities over the same issues,” the former legislator said. “Sarah had about three weeks ahead, to cover this crime.”
And it is Roy who informed him that “Cohen was missing. They used to talk two to three times a day.”
He recalled a recent incident when Wairimu allegedly grabbed a mic from Cohen, during their daughter’s wedding in the full glare of the guests.
– Who was Cohen?-
Cohen, a celebrated golf tournament organizer, was reported missing two months ago, and his wife was arrested and detained until Thursday when the prosecution told the court that they had evidence to charge her with the murder.
He is a former Chief Executive Officer of Dutch conglomerate Philips East Africa who has lived in Kenya for many years.
Justice Charles Kariuki directed Wairimu’s state of mind to be examined and the report tabled in court Monday when the case will be mentioned.
Wairimu’s lawyer, Phillip Murgor, who was angered by the decision to defer plea yet his client had been in custody for 16 days, was allowed to be present during the examination after he made damning allegations that one of the officers probing the murder is “sexually harassing her”.
Prosecutor Catherine Mwaniki told the court that investigations were still on and there was need to put some witnesses under protection before evidence in their possession can be furnished to the defense team.
An attempt by Murgor to object the mental examination and seek Wairimu’s release on bail pending charges was thwarted after Justice Kariuki told him “I am not here to listen to those applications. Make them on Monday before the head of the criminal division Justice Jessie Lesiit.”
According to a charge sheet filed in court, “Sarah Wairimu Kamotho on the night of 19 and 20 July jointly with others not before court murdered Tob Chichou Cohen.”
In previous interrogations with police, Wairimu is reported to have told investigators that Cohen was last seen on July 20, when he left their Kitisuru home in Nairobi, and has never been seen again.
The Daily Nation, quoting a letter she is said to have written to the Dutch Embassy, said she complained that “Tob has depression and mental condition he won’t address for personal reasons and this has (been) and is causing a lot of problems.”
“He has become impossible to live with, even though we try. The family has stepped aside due to the abusive and vindictive nature of his condition,” she wrote, in the letter to the Dutch Embassy that was seen by the daily that first reported the story.
The Dutch embassy in Nairobi never replied to letters from Wairimu.
The couple was involved in a divorce case.