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Mwangi lawyer’s house raided at night, sparking intimidation fears

Sunday October 23 2016

He has filed a counter-claim against DP Ruto.

Activist Boniface Mwangi confronts police officers during a demonstration in Nairobi on December 1, 2015. He has filed a counter-claim against DP Ruto. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WALTER MENYA
By WALTER MENYA
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A lawyer for activist Boniface Mwangi had his house raided on Friday, sparking fears among his legal team of intimidation.

According to Mr Mwangi’s lead lawyer Gitobu Imanyara, the people who broke into Mr Mugambi Laibuta’s Kiambu home only took off with a laptop which contained some of the evidence the defence would be relying on in the defamation suit.

“We had asked Mr Laibuta, a consultant for Boniface Mwangi’s legal team, to work on something related to the suit. He had been using his laptop on Mashujaa Day. But on the same night, Mugambi’s house was broken into and the people involved took off with his laptop. Nothing else was taken from the house,” said Mr Imanyara.

Apparently, Mr Laibuta was not in his house at the time of the raid.

The case has been reported at Thindingua Police Patrol Base, Kiambu, under OB02/21/10/2016.

“It was a professional job. After breaking into the house, they only took his laptop which he had been working on, which raises our fears that the person who did that was looking for some specific information,” said Mr Imanyara.

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The raid on Mr Laibuta’s house seems not isolated as other members of the legal team and Mr Mwangi himself claimed that there is systematic intimidation and harassment by people believed to be agents of the State.

Mr Mwangi’s lawyers filed a counter-claim to the defamation suit that Deputy President William Ruto has instituted against the activist.

Besides the raid at Mr Laibuta’s house, Mr Imanyara also claims there have been attempts to hack into his e-mails.

“They hacked into my e-mail account and started sending out e-mails to my contacts, some in very high places, that I was soliciting money. I believe they want to show we are just after money, which is not our interest,” the lawyer said.

More worrying, Mr Imanyara also believes the hacking could have been meant to retrieve the evidence they intend to rely on and any witness statements “but what they failed to realise is that we have backed up all the information we have”.

He told the Sunday Nation that his assistant has also faced similar actions.

“The reason, we believe, was to access the evidence in our possession and identify the witnesses and probably influence them. We now know and if anything happens to any of our witnesses, we shall know it is them (the plaintiff’s agents),” said Mr Imanyara.

But Mr Ruto, through his lawyer Kioko Kilukumi, termed as “ridiculous” claims that the defendants are being intimidated.

“Have the complainants lodged formal complaints with any investigative agencies? If so, what have the investigations revealed?” Mr Kilukumi posed.

Mr Kilukumi said Mr Ruto was neither aware of the defence claims, nor does he have specific information regarding the claims of harassment.