A senior police officer could face up to six months in jail for ignoring summons to appear in court and testify in a case where his colleague has been charged with the murder of his two bosses.
What was to be a normal task for a witness to give his side of the story turned unpleasant for Assistant Superintendent of Police Alex Mwandawiro after Justice Teresia Matheka of Nyeri High Court demanded to know why he failed to heed court summons.
Mr Mwandawiro, who is a ballistic examiner, was among the witnesses lined to testify on June 26 this year in a case where Mr Mark Mutwiri Mbogo is charged with killing Narumoru Deputy OCS Hudson Orwenyo and Senior Sgt John Koros on March 26, 2011.
CITED FOR CONTEMPT
The officer, who has so far been cited for contempt, was at pains to explain why he disappeared from the courtroom without giving notice despite having turned up and another witness stood down for him.
“As a witness, you are not supposed to leave court for whatever reason without permission,” said Justice Matheka.
But Mr Mwandawiro told the court that he left after realising there was a mix-up of the exhibits including spent cartridges handed over to him by investigating officers, saying they did not match the ones he examined with regard to the matter.
“I asked the investigating officer how I was supposed to proceed with my testimony without relevant exhibits,” explained the officer.
But his explanation did not move the court which insisted that the issue of contempt facing him was not a “simple matter”.
At the same time, Inspector Dindi the investigating officer and State Counsel Kennedy Magoma were also not spared as they had to explain if they were privy to the exhibits issue.
Mr Dindi agreed that there was indeed a mix-up of the exhibits and they needed time to sort the mess but denied excusing the witness from testifying.
On his part, the prosecutor denied the exhibits mix-up theory saying it was an afterthought by Mr Mwandawiro to cover-up for his absence.
The Lawyer for the accused, Mr Kimani Njuguna, called for action to be taken against the officer, saying his action had set a bad precedent and was delaying justice for his client.
Justice Matheka said the action of defying summons cannot go unpunished and would look at all appropriate laws to make a determination on the right action to take after hearing the remaining two witnesses in the trial.
The hearing continues on December 20, 2018.