By Sarah Nyakio
Four convicts in the murder of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and driver Joseph Muiruri have been given varying sentences ranging from 20 years in jail to death..
Fredrick Leliman (first accused) was on Friday, February 3, 2023 sentenced to death, Stephen Cheburet, the second accused, (30 years), Sylvia Wanjiku, the third accused (24 years), and Peter Ngugi, the fifth accused (20 years).
Justice Jessie Lesiit ruled at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi that the respective sentences will run concurrently
Leonard Mwangi, who was the fourth accused, was in June 2022 acquitted over lack of sufficient evidence against him.
On July 22, 2022, while rendering a guilty verdict on the four, Justice Lesiit said that the accused, who were police officers at the Mlolongo Police Station, contemplated for three hours on whether to kill the victims on June 23, 2016, a contemplation that she said indicated malicious motive.
Frederick Leliman and three others were convicted of carrying out the murders in 2016, in one of a series of cases of alleged police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Kenya.
Lawyer Willie Kimani was representing a motorcycle taxi operator who was suing Leliman for shooting him at a traffic roadblock. Leliman later started threatening and intimidating the man.
The bodies of Kimani, his client Josephat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were discovered in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, in the east of the country, days after they were reported missing.
Evidence produced in court showed that the three were abducted after a court session on June 22, 2016, were briefly locked up and then were taken out and murdered in an open field. Their bodies were discovered on July 1.
Those sentenced to death in Kenyan courts serve a life sentence. Kenya’s last execution was in 1987.
The four have 14 days to file an appeal.