The trial of five people accused of killing lawyer Willie Kimani, his client boda boda rider Josephat Mwenda and taxi Joseph Muiruri took a new twist on Tuesday when one of the accused persons said he no longer wanted to be represented by his advocate.
Mr Peter Ngugi Kamau told trial judge Jessie Lesiit that he was not getting along with his lawyer Neilias Kinyori and that he wanted to be represented by a male advocate.
Asked by iustice Lesiit whether he could afford to hire an advocate, Mr Ngugi said he could not afford so the government should assist him.
Without going into details, Ms Kinyori, who has been representing the suspect pro bono, said his demands were against the law.
“I have given my best and represented my client well but if he wishes to be represented by another lawyer, it is his right,” she said.
At the same time, the court was informed that lawyer Cliff Ombeta, who represents three police officers in the case, was still unwell and that his doctor had recommended three days of bed rest.
Through lawyer Sam Nyaberi, Mr Ombeta said an ophthalmologist saw him on Monday and asked him to rest.
However, the prosecutor told the court that the happenings were parts of plans to scuttle the case since it has reached a crucial stage.
Last week, the case was adjourned twice after Mr Ombeta failed to show up for the hearing.
He turned up on Friday after the court ordered a probe and protested the move, stating that he did not choose to fall sick.
The prosecution and victims’ lawyers, led by Senior Counsel Fred Ojiambo and Ben Sihanya, noted that Mr Ombeta’s absence was inconveniencing other persons and the expeditious conclusion of the case.
The trial has reached a crucial stage as the court is set to hear a video recording of Mr Ngugi's confession of how Mr Kimani and the other two people were arrested, tortured and killed in 2016.
The three were arrested and briefly held at Mlolongo AP Post before they were taken to an open field and tortured to death.
They suffered fractured skulls and injuries to the chest, neck and face and were bludgeoned on the heads until they died.
There were also wounds on the victims’ hands, meaning they were tied during the ordeal.
Mr Ngugi had opposed use of the 21-page statement, which he made before Chief Inspector Geoffrey Kinyua on August 9, 2016, at the headquarters of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
He claimed he tortured and promised a monthly fee of Sh30,000 and other benefits in order to cooperate with police and confess.
But in May 16, justice Lesiit allowed the prosecution to use the confession as part of the evidence in the trial.
He dismissed the suspect's claims of torture or assault and threats or intimidation and noted the confession taken in accordance with evidence (out of court confession) rules.
The judge also said that police gave Mr Ngugi time and waited for his brother.
She added that after the statement was written and read to him and he was informed of his right to correct or change it, he went ahead and signed it.
Mr Kimaniwere kidnapped after leaving the Mavoko Law Courts on June 23, 2016 and their bodies were recovered a week later from River Athi, near Ol Donyo Sabuk.
Police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku and Leonard Maina Mwangi, and Mr Ngugi, an alleged police informer, have denied the murder charges.
Some 38 witnesses have so far testified and about five, mostly police officers, are the remaining witnesses before the prosecution closes the case.
The case will be mentioned on July 24 while the hearing has been fixed for October 7.