Three brothers and their cousin have on Monday been sentenced to death for murder in a land dispute.
The High Court in Chuka found Wilfred Kioji, Jeff Murithi, Silas Kimathi and their cousin Francis Murangiri guilty of murdering Mathew Gichuhi Nyaga.
They committed the offence on February 13 last year in Tunyai village. The brothers were not happy that the late father had sold land to Nyaga.
In his ruling, Justice Robert Limo said the prosecution provided enough evidence to confirm Gichuhi’s death was as a result of a land dispute between him and the family of the accused persons.
The dispute escalated further after demarcation of the land, a process the accused person resisted. It was also at that time Kioji threatened to eliminate Nyaga.
“The surveyor had sensed opposition to the whole process from the accused persons and that is why he sought security from Tunyai police post. His fears were confirmed by the resistance that faced the whole process,” Justice Limo's ruling read.
In his defence, Murangiri had said it was Nyaga who attacked him with a panga. He said he screamed, attracting three other accused persons who came to rescue him.
He said they overpowered Nyaga and the latter ran away and jumped into Mutonga river, 600 metres away from the disputed land.
The other three argued the victim was killed by a mob that was protesting against claims he had grabbed their land.
Investigatuing officer Francis Ndirangu said there were signs of a struggle at the victim's home. He said they were also able to follow a trail of blood to the river.
He said they looked for the body in the river in vain, only for it to be found floating on the water two days later.
Dr Justus Kitili, who conducted the postmortem, established that Gichuhi’s body had deep head injuries that have been inflicted by sharp object.
The judge said there wasn't enough evidence of public protests, ruling out claims the victim was killed by a mob.
The judge regretted Tunyai Chief Julius Mburio may have incited the accused persons to commit the crime through a statement he issued.
“The unfortunate statement coming from the civil servant could have incited the accused persons to commit the crime,” said the Judge.
Evidence tendered in court showed Kioji, regarded as the main suspect, threatened to eliminate Nyaga and after three days, he was killed.
The four accused persons had told the court they knew Nyaga and were also aware of a land dispute between him and their family.
The judge gave them 14 days to appeal the verdict.