Guilty as charged: 4 convicted of Willie Kimani's murder, 1 acquitted

A total of 117 exhibits given by 46 prosecution witnesses and 34 defense witnesses enabled the high court judge to reach decision

From left Peter Ngugi, Leonard Mwangi, Sylvia Wanjiku Wanjohi, Stephen Cheburet Morogo and Fredrick  Leilman during the ruling on the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani

Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku, and police informer Peter Ngugi have been found guilty of executing human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri on June 23, 2016.

In a ruling which took place on July 22, 2022, Justice Jessie Lessit found the four guilty while Sergeant Leonard Mwangi was set free after the prosecution failed to link him to the murder of the human rights lawyer.

The ruling comes after six years, where a total of 117 exhibits were presented by 46 prosecution witnesses and 34 defence witnesses before the High Court.

The case, Justice Lessit said, had been the longest of her career noting she penned more than 6,000 pages of court hearings since the trial began.

Lessit’s judgment found the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused parties had active participation leading to the murder of the lawyer, his client and the taxi driver.

According to testimonials presented in court, Leliman accidentally shot Mwenda during a police stop on April 10, 2015 - an incident that was reported to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).

The fear of losing his job, the judge noted, pushed him to hatch a plot to get rid of the complainant Mwenda and his lawyer Willie Kimani.

Lawyer Willie Kimani began investigating the case on behalf of the International Justice Mission (IJM), an international NGO that helps the vulnerable get justice, before meeting his death.

The three men were abducted on June 23, 2016 after a court hearing in Mavoko where Mwenda was accused of violation of traffic rules and their bodies would later be discovered on June 30 in a river in Ol Donyo Sabuk with investigations revealing that the three men may have been killed at the 10:00 p.m. of the day they were abducted.

Police informer Peter Ngugi who had been handed the tracking duties of the three men gave an oral testimony of the accounts leading to the murder of the three, saying that Leliman killed the men while two other officers put the bodies in the boot of a car.

After dumping the bodies of the Mavoko 3, Ngugi said, they were hosted by officer Leliman’s wife who served them beer and beef.

Ngugi said he had lived in fear of abduction, the same way the Mavoko 3 were killed, and expressed regret for accepting to be used by the officers.

The sentencing of the three has been set for September 3.

Justice Lessit wants another judge to handle the sentencing but the accused parties want her to proceed with the case to sentencing.

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