Post-mortem central to police probe in Cohen brutal killing

Monday, September 16th, 2019 00:00 |
Tob Cohen’s sister Gabrielle van Straten and her husband Roy Straten address the media in Nairobi, yesterday. They said Cohen will be buried in Nairobi. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Zadock Angira and Barry Silah

A post-mortem examination to establish the cause of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen’s death will be conducted today, and is expected to determine the direction the case will take. 

Detectives involved in the case said the examination will be critical in linking those behind the death of the 71-year-old businessman.

“A confirmation that he could have died around the time he went missing with further strengthen our case against the main suspects,” said a detective who sought anonymity given the sensitive nature of the matter.

His family also revealed it had appointed an independent pathologist to take part in the  exercise. Cohen’s body was found in a septic tank at his Kitisuru home in Nairobi on Friday, two months after he went missing on July 19.

Reports indicate the Dutch had written to the police expressing fears for his life days before he went missing.

Cohen’s wife Sarah Wairimu, the main suspect in the killing is in police custody. 

The post-mortem will, among other things, establish the objective estimate of time since death, commonly referred to as the post-mortem interval (PMI).

Preliminary investigations by detectives from the Homicide Unit at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) indicate Cohen could have been killed the day  he went missing and the body hid in an underground pit.

Chief Government pathologist Johansen Oduor yesterday told the People Daily that submerged bodies tend to decompose slowly compared to those exposed.

To build a strong murder case, detectives plan to rely on reports from the pathologist detailing the circumstances surrounding the death—where and how Cohen died; how the body was disposed of and specific points of injury in the body.

Meanwhile, Cohen’s family—sister Gabriele van Straten, her husband Roy van Straten and her son Seth—revealed the businessman will be buried in Nairobi, according to his wishes.

“He was a Jew. He said he wanted to be buried in Nairobi and we will do just that,” said Gabriele.

Burial plans

She was categorical that the family did not plan to involve Wairimu in burial plans.

“We do not want her to attend (his burial). We do not know who killed him, but we do not want her to attend,” she said.

Wairimu’s lawyer Philip Murgor at the weekend defended his client, claiming Cohen’s body could have been dumped in the tank when she was in police custody.

This is one of the things detectives hope to unravel. Prior to the body’s finding, Wairimu had all along maintained Cohen was hiding somewhere and was safe. 

Cohen’s friend former Gatundu MP  Patrick Muiruri said the last time they played golf together at the Vet Lab Golf club, the Dutch expressed fears for his life.

Meanwhile, another suspect in Cohen’s killing has accused police of harassing. Peter Karanja who was arrested last week in Gilgil has not been charged.

His lawyers Ham Langat and Festus Ngati yesterday told journalists police had violated his rights by holding him without instituting formal charges against him. Karanja is said to be Wairimu’s lover.

His lawyers also claimed  he  had been denied medication, yet he is diabetic. 

“There has to be some humane face in all this. He is not a flight risk yet,” said Ngati.

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