Suspects let off-the-hook in Dutch tycoon Cohen death

Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 01:01 | By
Sarah Wairimu, the widow of the late Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen with her lawyer Philip Murgor at Milimani Law Courts. Photo/PD/CHARLES MATHAI

Mystery surrounding the circumstances leading to the disappearance and death of Dutch tycoon Tob Cohen will now be established through a public inquest.

The High Court yesterday allowed a request by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to withdraw murder charges against the tycoon’s widow Sarah Warimu and businessman Peter Karanja and allowed the prosecutors to pursue the matter through a public inquest.

“I hereby allow the nolle prosequi entered by the public prosecutor on November 29 and the two accused persons are accordingly discharged of the charges. It is recommended that this case be filed as an inquest before the Chief Magistrate courts in Milimani Law Courts,” Justice Ogembo ruled. 

The ruling paves the way for the registration of a judicial inquest at the Chief Magistrate’s court to establish the cause and circumstances leading to the death of the tycoon, whose body was discovered in an underground water tank at his home compound in Kitisuru, Spring Valley, Nairobi in September 2019.

Invited public

According to the court, the inquest will allow members of the public to provide any useful information on Cohen’s murder to the authorities, as is required by law.

“The DPP decided that a public inquest be held with the aim of uncovering the persons behind the gruesome murder of the late Tob Cohen. The public inquest provides a platform for any person with information that may be useful to unravel the murder to avail that information through a judicial process,’ the DPP informed the court. While allowing the nolle prosequi, Justice Ogembo noted that the widow and the businessman have been discharged but not acquitted and that they may be charged should the inquest find their culpability in Cohen’s death.

“In effect, upon conclusion of the inquest as intended by the DPP the accused persons would still be charged with the offence of murder and the victims (Cohen’s family) will still have rights as victims in the criminal proceedings, “ the judge stated.

Justice Ogembo dismissed the objection lodged by the late Cohen’s family against prosecutors’ decision to withdraw charges facing his widow Wairimu and Karanja.

Acted in bad faith

Justice Ogembo said the family’s objections lack merit, adding that he was and he was not convinced by their argument that the DPP acted in bad faith while deciding to withdraw the charges.

“This court is not convinced by victims that DPP exercised his powers in bad faith and the objections raised do not have merit and are dismissed. I allow the “nolle prosequi” (not to wish to prosecute). The accused persons are accordingly discharged,” said the judge.

Cohen, aged 71, had been reported missing on July 19, 2019 but Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) detectives failed to locate him until the body was discovered in the tank on September 13, 2019 by homicide detectives. This led to the arrest of the widow and the businessman.

‘Framed in murder’

But the widow has since stated that she was framed in the murder and two politicians were involved the disappearance and death of her husband. She alleges that police investigators were used to cover-up and protect the alleged killers.

In the ruling, the judge also refrained from dealing with Wairimu’s request for an order directing the State security agencies to release the of the Sh500 million matrimonial home in Kitisuru, Nairobi to her together with her Porsche  and a pet dog Snow.

The home has been under the control of police since July 2019 over allegations that it is a scene of crime.

“On return of property held by police, they could be part of dispute pending in other courts,” said Justice Ogembo while refraining himself from dealing with the issue.

Reacting to the court’s decision, Gabriele Van Straten, the late Tob Cohen’s sister appealed to President William Ruto to intervene in her brother’s murder case.

Speaking during an interview with a Dutch TV station yesterday, an agitated Straten expressed said she was taken aback when she received a call informing her that the DPP had issued an order to withdraw the case against Wairimu and Karanja.

“It’s terrible, I have aged ten years overnight and no one had expected this. Dear President Ruto, please don’t let the murderers of my brother walk free,” she stated.

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