Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen’s sister petitions JSC to fire judge

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 22:00 | By
Lawyers for the family of the murdered Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen led by Danstan Omari (centre) address the media at Milimani law courts in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Charles Mathai

Gabrielle Hannah Van Straten, the sister of the late Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen, has petitioned the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to fire Court of Appeal judge Sankale ole Kantai.

Through lawyer Danstan Omari, Gabrielle wants Justice Kantai sacked over claims of corruption, gross misconduct, misbehaviour and interference with judicial independence.

She accuses the judge of engaging in acts that breach public trust and consistently demeaning the dignity of his office and causing dishonour to the nation.

She claims exactly a week after the heinous murder of her brother, the judge bought an air ticket for the accused person Sarah Wairimu Kamotho, to travel to Kisumu ostensibly to scheme a cover-up of their alleged involvement in Cohen’s killing.

Wairimu is charged alongside businessman Peter Karanja with the tycoon’s murder.

Cohen’s body was discovered by detectives dumped in a septic tank within his Nairobi compound on September 13, 2019.

Yesterday, in documents filed before JSC, Gabrielle claims the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has since forensically placed the judge at the scene of her brother’s death.

“The report filed by DCI clearly demonstrates the judge actively participated in the planning and attempts to cover-up the murder of my brother,” she says in the petition.

She further claims the judge facilitated Wairimu to travel from Kisumu airport to Acacia Hotel in the lakeside city where they spent time together. 

He used his official vehicle and driver to pick up Wairimu, contrary to government directives that such cars should only be used for official functions, she claims.

Gabrielle says the judge embarked on a mission to destroy evidence of their involvement in the killing that happened between July 20 and August 28, 2019, via WhatsApp calls, phone calls and private meetings.

“Forensic analysis carried out by DCI has revealed that the judge and the accused person Sarah Wairimu were in heightened communication between July 17 and 19, 2019, the time my beloved brother is believed to have been killed,” she says in the documents.

Share transfer

She accuses the judge of fraudulently transferring one share belonging to Silas Ita, in Tobs Ltd, a company associated with Cohen, to himself and later to Wairimu on May 2, 2002.

“My late brother had never instructed the judge to transfer the said share and it is evident that the transfer was unknown to my late brother,” she states.

Gabrielle accuses the judge of misleading investigators by stating that he was approached by Cohen and Wairimu to incorporate Tobs Ltd.

She also claims Justice Kantai assisted Wairimu to write and edit her statement under inquiry regarding the disappearance of Cohen.

“This amounted to an abuse of the office of the judge as he evidently was interfering with active police investigations and was an accessory to the fact of murder,” she states.

The judge, she says, counselled Wairimu to procure a fake power of attorney in February 2019, which is a clear demonstration of his questionable conduct.

Breached oath office 

Through the lawyer, she notes that the judge admitted in his statement under inquiry made to DCI that he hosted Wairimu in his official chambers in Nyeri in March 2019 and discussed with her an active divorce case filed by his late brother.

According to the Dutch national, Justice Kantai exhibited gross misbehaviour by engaging in extra marital affairs with Wairimu while being a married man.

“He booked and checked into a hotel room at the Acacia Hotel in Kisumu with the said Sarah and spent two nights together,” she argues.

Gabrielle says it was gross misconduct for the judge to be intimate with Sarah despite knowing that she was a married woman and by extension a central figure in an ongoing criminal trial.

“The sum total of the actions by the judge is that he has breached his oath of office and is eligible for removal from office under Article 168(1) (e),” she states.

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