The blood-curdling manner in which human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were killed by police officers was narrated to a court Monday.
The court fell silent as the chilling account, contained in the confession of one of the murder suspects, was read by chief inspector Geoffrey Kinyua.
Mr Peter Ngugi, a former police informer, had been assigned the task of kidnapping Mr Mwenda on June 23, 2016 — the day he was scheduled to appear in court for the hearing of a case of a shooting incident involving an Administration Officer, Mr Fredrick Leliman.
Mr Leliman had earlier approached Mr Ngugi, seeking his assistance. According to the statement, Mr Leliman had complained of a man who wanted him sacked, after complaining of a shooting incident to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa).
“He told me that the person he was talking about was really pushing for his dismissal and that he was being assisted by Ipoa. He said that his case was set for hearing on 23/6/2016 and therefore we must act on that day, when he comes to court,” the statement read.
Mr Ngugi met Mr Leliman a day before the kidnapping and that he was informed he would be shown the said man —Mwenda — by a woman.
On June 23, he met Mr Leliman early morning in the company of the woman.
The police officer drove them to Mlolongo bus stop and asked them to take a matatu to Mavoko Law Courts.
He gave him Sh2,000, which he was to share with the woman, before driving off. “He (Mwenda) was easily identifiable because he was a short man,” Mr Ngugi’s statement reads.
"She told me, ‘ndiyo huyo kamutu yako (there is your man).'"
The court hearing took about two hours and Mr Ngugi sat there, waiting until around 11am when Mwenda and his lawyer, Kimani, emerged from the courtroom.
They entered Muiruri’s vehicle. Mr Ngugi relayed this information to Mr Leliman, who instructed him to follow the vehicle.
As they drove towards the city centre from Mlolongo, Mwenda, Kimani and Muiruri were stopped and told they were under arrest.
They obeyed orders to enter a vehicle that was being driven by a Mr Kamenju. Mr Leonard Mwangi, another accused person, was in the vehicle.
PHONES SWITCHED OFF
The three were driven to the Syokimau AP post and locked in a cell, while the officers converged at a bar nearby to discuss how to execute them, the court heard.
But as they imbibed drinks, an officer called them saying that one of the victims had managed to call his wife, informing her of the arrest.
This surprised the officers because all the mobile phones belonging to the victims had been left in their vehicle.
Meanwhile, Mr Ngugi had a second task — to dispose of the taxi belonging to Muiruri. The initial plan was to drive all the way to Meru.
“But on inquiry, I was told the vehicle operates as a taxi in Zimmermann and driving towards that route would be dangerous. The vehicle also did not have enough fuel and driving to a petrol station would be risky,” he says in the statement.
He drove towards Limuru, where he abandoned the vehicle at Kwa Mbira. He also switched off the four mobile phones belonging to the victims, but he did not manage to switch off a fifth one.
He threw them at different spots before heading back to Mlolongo, where he rejoined the officers.
The victims were removed from the cells late in the evening and driven on Mombasa Road to a bushy area.
They were handcuffed from the back. Before the executions, the killers differed on what to do with them.
“I (Ngugi) and Mwangi were of the view that we had been exposed and should set them free, but Leliman and Kamenju disagreed and insisted on executing them,” the 21-page statement said.
They argued for about three hours until officers manning the Mlolongo weighbridge drove to the spot and asked them what they were doing.
“They were concerned that members of the public were asking what we were doing, but Kamenju explained to them that they were police officers,” he said.
At around 10pm, the first victim was executed. According to the statement, it was the man who had been identified in the morning, thus Mwenda.
As the officers executed him using a rope and putting a plastic bag on his face, Mr Ngugi was told to watch over the vehicle carrying the other victims.
DISPOSAL OF BODIES
The second victim was executed around 11pm and the third one was killed almost immediately. The bodies were put in sacks.
Being taller than the other victims, the killers used two sacks for the third victim.
After executing them, Mr Kamenju said he knew of a good spot in Ol-Donyo Sabuk, where they would dispose of the bodies.
They drove towards City Cabanas and took the Eastern bypass towards Ruiru, in two vehicles.
Mr Ngugi, a second-hand clothes dealer, drove the vehicle carrying two bodies, while the officers were in the second vehicle carrying the third body.
The bodies were later thrown in Athi River in Ol-Donyo Sabuk. The killers having accomplished their mission, they drove back to Mlolongo where they resumed their drinking.
“We arrived at Mlolongo around 4am and took supper in a hotel. Mr Leliman was the first to leave. He was followed by Sergeant Mwangi, who left on foot because he lived nearby,” he said.
Mr Kamenju, he said, left at around 6am and he was left in the pub sleeping on the seat until around 4pm when he went back home in Waithaka, Dagoretti.
While being cross-examined by lawyers Cliff Ombeta, Katwa Kigen and Kevin Michuki, Mr Kinyua said Mr Ngugi made the statement voluntarily, without any promises, inducement or threats.
He said he took one-and-a half-hours recording the statement from Mr Ngugi. A post-mortem report presented in court showed that the three victims had fractured skulls and injuries on their chests, necks and faces.