19 February 2019

Kenya: Defence, Prosecution Duel Over 'Confession' in Murder Case

The prosecution in a case in which five people deny killing a lawyer, his client and a taxi driver yesterday stepped up its bid to have a confession by one of the suspects read in court.

Administration Police officers -- Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku and Leonard Maina Mwangi -- and Mr Peter Ngugi are charged with killing Mr Willy Kimani, Mr Josephat Mwenda and Mr Joseph Muiruri.

The defence insisted that Mr Ngugi was coerced into recording his 21-page statement, but the prosecution said he did it willingly.

LANGUAGE

"Mr Ngugi was calm and did not look disturbed when making the statement," Mr Geoffrey Kinyua, a police officer attached to the Serious Crimes Unit, told the court. "I opted to take his fingerprints rather than his signature because we have dealt with cases of people denying their own signatures in court."

Mr Kinyua was expected to read the confession by Mr Ngugi.

His testimony came minutes after the defence opposed the reading of the statement.

The defence added that Mr Ngugi was forced to record the confession in order to be made a prosecution witness.

The lawyers added that the statement could not have been recorded by Mr Ngugi "since he does not communicate fluently in English and Kiswahili".

They said Mr Ngugi's preferred language was Gikuyu and faulted the fact that there was no interpreter during the recording of the statement.

TRIAL-WITHIN-A-TRIAL

However, the court was told that the statement was recorded in the presence of Mr Ngugi's brother and that there was no need for a translator since Mr Kinyua understood the language well.

The High Court directed that a trial-within-a-trial be conducted to determine if the confession can be admitted as evidence.

The prosecution said it would call six witnesses during the trial-within-a-trial.

Mr Kinyua was the first to take the stand Monday while Mr Clement Mwangi, a police officer who arrested Mr Ngugi, was the second.

Some 37 of the 45 prosecution witnesses have already testified since the trial began. Mr Kinyua was the 38th.

Mr Kinyua told the court that Mr Ngugi approached him on August 9, 2016 through a colleague identified as Inspector Mwangi, wishing to record a confession.

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

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