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Police unable to find author of ‘fake’ Ruto assassination letter

Tuesday January 28 2020

Dennis Itumbi

Samuel Gateri Wanjiru (left) and Dennis Itumbi at Milimani Law Courts on January 28, 2020.  PHOTO KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH WANGUI
By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The source of a letter that ''exposed'' a plot to assassinate Deputy President William Ruto remains unknown, a Nairobi court heard on Tuesday.

The lead investigator, Chief Inspector Peter Maina, on Tuesday told court that a forensic audit of the document failed to establish when the fake letter first emerged. 

FAKE LETTER

While testifying against Secretary of Digital Media at State House Dennis Itumbi and Mr Samuel Gateri, the investigator also confirmed to court that the forensic analysis was unable to trace the originator of the letter.

The 20-page forensic report produced in court as an exhibit by the prosecution did not indicate when the image of the letter was first posted in a WhatsApp group named Tangatanga Movement.

“The forensic audit was to find the originator and author of the letter,” Mr Maina told Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku.

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He added that investigations into the controversial document, that went viral on social media, were conducted by four officers.

ASSASSINATION CLAIMS

Mr Maina assembled the team following instructions by the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti, who had been instructed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to investigate the assassination claims as well as the letter.

While being cross-examined by Mr Itumbi’s lawyer Katwa Kigen, the police chief said the forensic study concluded that Mr Itumbi’s mobile phone -- in terms of simcard and handset -- did not have any communication concerning the letter.

It was difficult to pin down Mr Itumbi, who works at the DP’s office, for posting the letter in the political WhatsApp group because he had reprogrammed his mobile phone and deleted everything. The letter was also shared in a Kiambu County WhatsApp group.

Since WhatsApp group forums accommodate up to 256 people, the investigator told the court he only interviewed four people listed as administrators of the Tangatanga group. The investigations were never extended to the Kiambu forum.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE

 “There is circumstantial evidence on why he deleted and reprogrammed the mobile phone. He did so after the posting of the letter. This is because he knew he would be arrested,” said the witness.

The detective said police had neither contacted nor summoned Mr Itumbi in relation to the document. Mr Kigen insisted that his client had no connection to the fake letter. 

 “If he needed to have deleted it, then he must have had information that police were looking for him. But the witness has confirmed police had [neither] contacted [nor] summoned him,” said Mr Kigen.

The witness also denied that the complainant in the case is Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.

He was responding to Mr Kigen’s statement that a police charge-and-cautionary document had indicated the PS was the complainant.

THREE COUNTS

Mr Itumbi is facing three counts involving publishing and authoring the letter but the chief investigator said forensic investigation failed to link his phone to the offence.

The court heard that Mr Gateri was to become a prosecution witness against Mr Itumbi but he (Mr Gateri) was arrested and charged after he posted the letter in Facebook.

“On interrogation of Mr Gateri, he confirmed that the letter was posted by Mr Itumbi in a WhatsApp group where he is a member. He showed police the group in his mobile phone. We proceeded to arrest Mr Itumbi and confiscated his simcard and mobile phone,” said Mr Maina.

The magistrate heard that no statement was recorded from Mr Gateri despite police marking him as a State witness.

He was charged alongside Mr Itumbi after telling court that police had coerced him into signing a statement. The hearing of the case continues Wednesday.