DPP wants four cops denied bail

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020 00:00 |
Willie Kimani murder suspects, from left: Peter Ngugi, Leonard Maina, Sylvia Wanjohi, Stephen Morogo, and Fredrick Leliman when they appeared in a Nairobi Court on October 9, 2019. Photo/PD/File

Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has opposed the release on bail of four police officers and a former police informer charged with the murder of Human Rights lawyer Willie Kimani and two others.

Assistant DPP Nicholas Mutuku yesterday told Justice Jessie Lessit they have tendered volumes of evidence to link the accused to the killings, hence their chances of absconding are very high.

The police officers: Fredrick ole Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Leonard Mwangi, Sylvia Wanjiku and former police informer Peter Ngugi were charged in 2016 with the murder of Kimani, his client Josephat Mwendwa, and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

The five made a fresh application to be released on bail pending the completion of their trial.

This is the third time they have made the application. The suspects argue that the murder case has been heard partly and more than half of the Prosecution witnesses, including protected ones, have already testified. 

Through lawyers James Mochere and Katwa Kigen, the court heard that some of the accused had suffered Covid-19 in prison and that Wanjiku, has a medical condition that requires attention, hence the urgent need for their release on bail.

Witness protection

Prosecutor Mutuku, however, opposed the bail application, arguing that the witnesses who have testified draw their comfort of safety by the fact that the accused are still in custody.

“It is true majority of the witnesses who were on witness protection have testified.

It makes it even worse, because probably they have been released from the witness protection programme,” he told the court.

 Mutuku further argued that the bail was previously denied because the case they were facing was very serious, a fact that has not changed.

On Corona grounds, Mutuku argued that is not a sufficient reason to release the suspects on bail as the virus is in and out of prison.

“People have contracted Covid-19 out here…It is proof that prison management can handle the situation and thus it cannot be a compelling ground,” he said.

Mutuku explained that when the murder incident occurred in 2016, there were protests and a police facility was set ablaze by an irate mob. Mutuku said this could endanger the suspects if they are released.

“If the public get to hear that the accused have been released out there, they may react again,” he argued.

Law Society of Kenya and the victims’ family backed the DPP’s response.

Justice Lessit will give a ruling on notice. 

She directed the matter to proceed on October 30.

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