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Willie Kimani murder suspects in another appeal for bond

Tuesday March 26 2019

Willie Kimani murder suspects

A file photo of Peter Ngugi Kamau alias Brown and the four AP officers accused of the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani and two others at a Nairobi court. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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The prosecution has opposed the release of four police officers charged with the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.

Administration Police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet Morogeo, Sylvia Wanjiku Wanjohi and Leonard Maina Mwangi on Tuesday pleaded with Justice Jessie Lesiit to release them on bond saying they would abide by all of the court's conditions.

But Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Mutuku urged the court to dismiss their application, arguing that compelling circumstances still existed even though key witnesses had testified.

Mr Mutuku added that they had tabled overwhelming evidence against the accused, whom he said were likely to flee if released.

He also said it was not the right time to review bond terms because the suspects' release might cause anxiety and apprehension among the witnesses.

SERIOUS OFFENCE

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Mr Mutuku also urged the court to consider the seriousness of the offence, which is punishable by death.

As such, he said, the accused were highly likely to abscond out of fear of conviction if released on bail.

This was the officers' second attempt to convince the court to release them on bond.

In December 2016, Justice Lesiit dismissed their application saying there were strong reasons against it.

At the time, the judge said stringent bond terms could not guarantee that the integrity of the trial would be protected until its conclusion.

She also reasoned that since the accused numbered more than one, witnesses would end up fearful enough not to appear in court for the hearing.

OTHER ARGUMENTS

In their application for release, the police officers told the judge that they intended to go through the trial and exonerate themselves.

Their lawyer also noted that they had permanent homes and families so they were not flight risks and would not interfere with the remaining witnesses.

The accused also told the court that Article 49 (1) (h) of the Constitution grants accused persons the right to be released on bond, unless there are compelling reasons against this.

Fifth suspect Peter Ngugi Kamau, who is said to be a police informer, did not ask to be released on bail.

Mr Kimani, Mr Mwenda and Mr Muiruri were kidnapped after leaving the Mavoko Law Courts on June 23, 2016.

A week later, their bodies were pulled out of Oldonyo Sabuk river in Machakos after they were found stashed in gunny bags.

Justice Lesiit will rule on the suspects' bond application on May 9.