The nine suspects in the murder of Kamaindi chief Japheth Mayau Mukengu pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.
They are Gerald Njeru, Julius Mburu, John Nthiga Kirema, Sisiria Katora Rochianga, Leah Muthoni Ngigi, Julius Njeru Kimenye, Jornard Njagi Kibuibe, Gediel Munyua Munugu and Tom Kinyua Njoka.
The nine are accused of killing the chief, with the help of accomplices, at a village in Kamaindi in Igambang’ombe Sub-county, Tharaka-Nithi County, on April 30.
At the Chuka High Court on Thursday, the prosecution noted that the suspects underwent mental checks as recommended by a lower court where they were first arraigned last week.
“They were confirmed as fit to stand trial,” prosecutor Jane Kemunto Maari said.
The accused's lawyer orally sought their release on bond but the prosecution objected and asked the court to order a formal application.
Justice Robert Limo directed that a social inquiry on the suspects be prepared for consideration alongside the formal bond application.
“The nine will remain in police custody until July 31 when the case will be heard,” Judge Limo said.
The chief's gruesome murder led to the killing of Chuka OCS Joseph Kinyua and a police informer at Ugweri market in Embu County on May 1.
The OCS was hacked with an axe while pursuing David Ikaaba, one of the suspects in Mr Mukengu's murder. The suspect was shot dead by police at the market.
The chief, whose body was burnt after the murder, was buried at Kigatuni village on May 17.
The informer, who was his nephew, died at Tenri Hospital in Embu and was also buried in Kigatuni village.
Four suspects in the murder of the OCS were arraigned in Embu on May 20. Police sought more time for investigations before their plea-taking.