The prosecution on Thursday, September 26, made an application before High Court judge Stella Mutuku, to have key suspect in Tob Cohen’s murder, Sarah Wairimu, and her lawyer, Philip Murgor, charged and punished for contempt of court.
Lead prosecutor, Catherine Mwaniki, told the court that Wairimu and her lawyer made remarks about Cohen’s murder case at the Dutch tycoon’s burial on Tuesday, September 24, consequently, defying a directive by Justice Jessie Lesiit that barred different parties, including the defense, the DPP and the DCI boss, Kinoti, from speaking publicly about details of Cohen’s murder case.
On Tuesday, Tob Cohen’s widow, Sarah Wairimu, maintained she did not kill the Dutch tycoon, and that she was ready to take her court battle to the wire to prove her innocence.
Speaking at Cohen’s burial at the Jewish Cemetery on Wangari Maathai Road, Wairimu suggested that her husband’s killers were shedding crocodile tears at his interment.
“I am not scared of anybody. One thing that Tob taught me, is not to take no for an answer. So, even in this, I am going to fight,” she said emphatically.
“Even as we stand here, the people who are responsible for Tob’s death… are also here in sheep’s skin… Believe you me, your days are numbered,” added Sarah Wairimu.
And now, those remarks have, ostensibly, returned to haunt the defendant, as the prosecution says it wants Murgor and his client jailed for contempt of court.
Prosecutor Mwaniki says they have recordings of “what Murgor and Wairimu said”, and that they have gotten witnesses to prove that the two acted in contempt.
“The witnesses are seeking protection from the witness protection agency,” said Mwaniki.
Murgor, however, dismissed the prosecution’s claims, saying that the State is the one that “has been prosecuting the case via media”.
Mwaniki asked the court to grant the prosecution time to file formal contempt of court charges against Murgor and Wairimu.
Questions also arose on whether Murgor is legally and ethically-suitable to represent Wairimu in court, given he “still is a special staff at the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) office”.
DPP Noordin Haji, in January 2019, appointed Murgor in the special prosecutors’ team.
Murgor was appointed alongside former Mombasa Mayor, Taib Ali Taib, and lawyer James Kihara Murithi as public prosecutors in a notice dated January 15.
Haji said the move was aimed at strengthening the capacity at his office in light of the increasing complexity of crime in Kenya.
The move followed a long rigorous process that began in September 2018.
A public advertisement was made that requested interested lawyers to apply for pre-qualification to join the panel of ODPP lawyers for legal services.
Haji said 15 applications were received and processed but three were pre-qualified.
And now, Tob Cohen’s family lawyer, Cliff Ombeta, claims he does not remember Murgor being degazetted as a special prosecutor, and, therefore, a conflict of interest might arise as he represents Sarah Wairimu in court.
The prosecution, led by Catherine Mwaniki, asked the High Court in Nairobi to grant them more time to establish whether Murgor is still attached to the DPP’s office.
Murgor, however, told Justice Stella Mutuku that he resigned from his post at the DPP’s office, and that he has a resignation letter dated March 2019 to prove his claim.
Mwaniki asked the court to push back Wairimu’s plea date to next week, a request that was granted by the court.
Wairimu, the key suspect in Tob Cohen’s murder, will, therefore, take plea on Tuesday, October 1.
Should the judge rule that Murgor is still assigned to the DPP’s office, then Sarah Wairimu could be forced to look for another lawyer, given Murgor would not qualify to represent the defense.
Justice Mutuku said she will, on Tuesday, October 1, give directions on the two issues raised: 1) whether Murgor and Wairimu acted in contempt of court on September 24, and 2) whether Murgor should be discarded as Wairimu’s legal representative in Tob Cohen’s murder case.
Tob Cohen, a golf tour millionaire and former Philips East Africa boss, was reported missing on July 19, and his body found 55 days later in his Kitisuru home.