Wairimu disowns Cohen will, claims it is ‘compromised’
Kinyuru Munuhe and Bernice Mbugua
Controversy seems to have ringed itself around Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen— at least in the last days of his life and now in death.
And Friday, it heightened after his widow and key suspect in the killing, Sarah Wairimu, disowned a will that the tycoon had purportedly left behind even as his burial arrangements seemed to run into problems.
The widow might be locked out of the Monday burial after a High Court judge declined to grant her orders to enable her attend the ceremony. Her petition was set for hearing Monday morning, the day of the burial.
Wairimu had filed an application through her lawyer Philip Murgor, seeking a production order to be escorted to the Jewish Cemetery to bury her husband.
However, High Court Judge Ngenye Macharia, who was contacted on phone by the deputy Registrar, declined to issue the order, saying she had left the court premises and directed them to appear before her on Monday.
Should the court decline to grant Wairimu orders to attend the burial, the arrangements could run into headwinds as her presence at the interment was one of the conditions she had given as a precondition to allow the process to proceed.
Earlier Friday, Wairimu boycotted a private session to open her husband’s will at Chege Kirundi & Company Advocates offices in Nairobi, claiming the contents had been “compromised”.
Through Murgor, the widow vowed to challenge the contents of the will should anyone attempt to interfere with matrimonial property and interests in the Tobs Kenya Golf Sarafis Company.
“My client is not party to the so-called will because she feels that it was tampered with by some people, and she will move to court to challenge the contents should they happen to interfere with their matrimonial property,” said Murgor.
But sources intimated to the PD Online that Cohen left out Wairimu in the will that is said to have been witnessed by 12 people at the time he was writing it.
Among those said to have witnessed it were his lawyer Chege Kirundi, his sister Gabrielle Van Stratten and her husband Roy Strathen, some two lawyers, and former Gatundu North MP Patrick Muiruri.
The source said Cohen had handed his Sh400 million house in Runda to his sister, Gabrielle.
While displaying the will in his Bruce House office in Nairobi, Kirundi said he had invited Murgor but failed to turn up.
“We want to confirm that we as a firm drew the will of the late Tob Cohen. I did write a letter to Murgor inviting him to come today for the reading of the will at 11.30am.
We have waited for him up to this time and he has not come. Having not come for that long we cannot wait anymore. He has not come neither has he sent a representative,” Kirundi said.
However, Kirundi, who maintains he has Cohen’s will in its original form did not disclose when it was authored.
He said although they are yet to receive the other necessary documents needed after Cohen’s body was found, positively identified and postmortem conducted, time was due to avail the will to the family.
Cohen's sister Gabrielle Van Straten, their elder brother Bernard Cohen and Gabrielle's husband Roy Van Straten were the only family members present alongside their lawyer Cliff Ombeta, all who Kirundi said were satisfied with the contents of the will.
Cohen’s friends led by Muiruri were also present.
“I want to confirm that this is the will in its original form. You can see it has the seal, the seal has not been broken at all. The other side is the same. Any allegation that this will has been leaked is not true,” Kirundi said during a press briefing.
“My clients whom I am representing in court are here, we got the invitation. Murgor got an invitation formally but he decided not to be here.
Let us make this very clear that he has not been prevented to be here in any way. He has chosen by himself not to be here and he says this is under the instruction of his client,” said Ombeta, who is representing Cohen's sister.
Ombeta said he personally called Murgor to accompany him but he told him he could not attend claiming the “will had already tampered with”.
Murgor said his client doubts the motive of the planned will reading because the confidentiality of the document had been impugned after a local newspaper, citing a Dutch newspaper, published its contents on September 16.
"It is evident that the confidential nature of the will you claim to possess or any others for that matter has been severely compromised, to the extent that our client has instructed us to inform you that she does not wish to participate in any related process," the letter read.
And last evening, Murgor showed us an affidavit that the late Cohen and Wairimu had jointly sworn on May 18, 2007 indicating that they had jointly purchased a plot LR number 2951/449 situated at Farasi Lane off Ngecha road.
Though the plot was registered in Cohen's name, it remained jointly owned by the two.
“That in the month of June 2007, we jointly started developing the aforementioned plot by erecting a dwelling house, which todate is ongoing,” the affidavit states.
Wairimu, who is yet to plead to the murder charge, is accused of killing her husband on the night of July 19 and 20 with others who have not appeared before court.
She is due for mental assessment before she pleads to the charge on September 26.
Cohen will be buried on Monday in a private ceremony at 2pm after lawyers from both sides of the family agreed to it.
He will be buried at a Jewish cemetery in Nairobi.