Top city lawyer Assa Nyakundi has denied reports that he is on the run after a warrant was allegedly issued for his arrest for skipping a court session.
“There has been no arrest warrant issued against me that I am aware of, or which my legal team has been informed about,” Mr Nyakundi told the Nation in an exclusive interview.
The lawyer spoke Monday at the Milimani Law Courts, where he had gone to represent a client.
Reached for comment, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Catherine Mwaniki, who is leading the prosecution, told the Nation that she is not allowed to comment on the matter.
The Director of Communications at the DPP, Mrs Beatrice Omari, also failed to confirm whether the DPP had a warrant for Mr Nyakundi’s arrest.
Mr Nyakundi said that he spent the weekend running errands in Nairobi and in social joints, where he joined other revellers to watch the Uefa Nations League final on Sunday night.
“At no time have I contemplated running away. I am abiding by the court orders and proceedings,” he said.
Mr Nyakundi failed to appear in court on June 5, when Kiambu Senior Principal Magistrate Teresia Nyangena was to determine whether she will recuse herself from the case after she was accused of making an inappropriate contact with the suspect’s lawyers.
“I did not go to court since the day fell on a public holiday, and as a result, the magistrate set July 5 as the date for a ruling on the matter,” he said.
His failure to appear in court annoyed the prosecution, which saw Ms Mwaniki ask the court the next day to issue a warrant for his arrest. The application led to a showdown between her and Senior Principal Magistrate Brian Khaemba.
While Ms Mwaniki wished to have Mr Nyakundi arrested for contempt of court, Mr Khaemba declined to give the order, saying his senior, Ms Nyagena, still had the lawyer’s file.
Mr Khaemba also rejected her request that he goes through a skeleton of the file and make a ruling.
Since Mr Nyankundi shot his 29-year-old son, Mr Joseph Bogonko, in unclear circumstances on the afternoon of March 17, the incident has sucked in officers from the Judiciary, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
It began with Mr Nyakundi’s long stay at a private hospital, where it was said that he was seeking medical attention, and ended with Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti interdicting his officers for bungling the case.
Mr Kinoti accused the investigating officers of intentionally failing to include scene of crime photos, a scene of crime analysis report, or a ballistics report in the trial file.
Further, he wants the manslaughter charges substituted with murder, saying that there is sufficient evidence that the shooting was made with the intention to kill.
Already, the DPP has applied to have the charge substituted, a move that the lawyer’s wife, said to have been listed as a prosecution witness, has opposed.
Further, on May 20, Ms Mwaniki filed an application in which she accused the court of having been compromised to influence the outcome of the case.
The case has taken yet another twist with Mr Nyakundi saying he reads malice in the conduct of the DCI and DPP.
“I will file a constitutional petition at the High Court against the DPP and the DCI for violating my rights,” said Mr Nyakundi, who accuses both the DPP and DCI of exposing him to negative publicity and issuing untruthful information to the public on the ongoing investigation.
The trial of Mr Nyakundi, one of the country’s leading lawyers, makes for a tough battle, given that it pits seasoned prosecutors said to do what it takes to have a suspect convicted against a team of lawyers renowned for saving their clients from the hangman’s noose.
Ms Mwaniki, one of the longest serving public prosecutors, was the head of the murder section at the public prosecutor’s office until June last year, when DPP Noordin Haji moved her to the Extradition and International Cooperation Division.
A prosecutor with one of the highest conviction rates, she has a history of working tirelessly to ensure suspects are convicted.
Judiciary insiders say that she is the person to go to when you want to nail high-profile individuals and in complex murder issues.
In the most recent cases, Ms Mwaniki was the lead prosecutor in the murder cases against journalist Jackie Maribe and Migori County Governor Okoth Obado.
Meanwhile, Mr Nyakundi’s defence team comprises six lawyers, including Mr Cliff Ombeta, the poster boy of the country’s most controversial and emotive trials, and veteran John Khaminwa, whose experiences include being detained alongside his clients.
Dr Khaminiwa was first detained from 1982 to 1983 and again in 1990 during the clamour for multi-party democracy.
In the 1990s, he represented lawyer Rumba Kinuthia in a treason case and won, a rare feat during the Moi era.