The death of lawyer Willie Kimani will mean a longer time behind bars for a man detained at the Industrial Area Remand Prison who has two separate complaints against Kayole-based police.
Mr Joash Owiti could probably be out on a cash bail today had the lawyer not have been abducted on June 23 and later killed.
On the afternoon of the day he was captured, Mr Kimani was to appear at the Makadara Law Courts to apply for Mr Owiti’s production in court two weeks earlier than the scheduled mention date.
Mr Owiti’s production could help the lawyer launch a bid to have him released on a cash bail for a robbery case he was facing. Mr Owiti had been given a Sh500,000 bond but could not raise it.
That would have been the very first time Mr Kimani would have been appearing in court for Mr Owiti, whose case had attracted the attention of the International Justice Movement (IJM).
Two weeks earlier, the lawyer had visited Mr Owiti in remand and recorded a statement from him following his earlier claim before a Makadara magistrate that he had helped carry the blood-soaked body of a friend out of a police cell, and that he was not sure where the body had been taken.
According to Mr Vincent Oginga, who was with Mr Kimani in Mavoko on the day the lawyer was abducted with two other men, Mr Kimani’s plan was to convince the court to issue cash bail terms for Mr Owiti.
Mr Oginga said IJM was ready to pay the cash bail so that Mr Owiti would facilitate a deeper investigation into his claim that a man had been killed in a police cell and also his allegation that he had been assaulted by policemen earlier this year.
Mr Oginga said Mr Owiti is still bandaged following the alleged assault by police. “We had total faith that Willie could succeed in having him released. We had earlier applied for a cash bail but were turned down,” Mr Owiti’s wife Sarah Atieno told the Sunday Nation on Saturday.
The robbery case was his third criminal case in 18 months.
According to Mr Oginga, the cases against the detainee could have been instituted to intimidate him after he reported to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) that some policemen at the Kayole Division had assaulted him in January, which caused his hand to break.
Mr Oginga, an independent investigator with a Nairobi-based NGO, says it is a weird coincidence that the two cases Mr Owiti has been charged with this year — stealing and robbery — have one man who is a witness in both.
It is the strangeness of the cases that drew the attention of Mr Kimani.
Mr Owiti’s tale raises the concern that Ipoa may not be protecting those who report wrongdoing by the police, leaving them to be intimidated by those they accuse.
“Ipoa is understaffed,” said Mr Oginga. But Ipoa Chairman Macharia Njeru denied the allegation of his staff being overstretched, also maintaining that Ipoa does not have complaints on its witness protection.