Death anniversary brings back bitter memories

A tribute to lawyer Wachira Karani. [Kibata Kihu/Standard]
Tucked inside the obituary pages of The Standard on Monday was a death anniversary advertisement of former Kirinyaga lawyer Wachira Karani.

While most messages that accompany such adverts are remarkably similar, a closer look at Karani’s quarter-page tribute revealed the heart-wrenching story of a heinous crime that has remained unresolved and unpunished since the lawyer was bludgeoned to death.

“Dear Mr Wachira, 14 years since you were snatched from us at a young age of 40, life has not been easy, but God has been on our aside,” it read.

“Take note that the Judiciary failed you big time. In fact, it betrayed you.

“Your murder case could not get a judgement because a "doctor" could not be traced for DNA evidence. A mysterious file said to be under lock and key, whose judgement was postponed more than 10 times in anticipation of your death, "disappeared" upon your death.

“In fact, the mention of Civil Suit No.87 of 2004 in the Principal Magistrate’s Court scares even the bravest,” the obituary read.

The emotional tribute that captured events prior to and following the death of Karani in 2005 was penned by the family, in what appears to be a fresh quest for justice.

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And it would appear the plaintive cry has pierced the heart of the Judiciary, with court officials in Nairobi already requesting for information on the matter.

Yesterday, workers at the Kerugoya law courts were searching through documents for case files touching on the lawyer’s death at the request of the Judiciary headquarters.

Karani had driven home on the night of July 29, 2005, when he was savagely murdered at the gate of his Kerugoya town residence.

According to his widow Rose Wanjiru, who was also brutally attacked when she responded to Karani’s distress calls outside their Miringa Iiri estate house, her husband was handling a land dispute before his death.

“The painful memories of my husband’s killing have refused to go away,” she said.

Wanjiru had to attend her husband’s burial while confined to a wheelchair. She was later taken back to hospital.

The suspects who had been arrested and found in possession of the family’s personal belongings were all acquitted for lack of evidence.

When The Standard asked to peruse the case file on Monday, this reporter was informed that it was impossible because it was still at the Embu law courts.

“I am sorry you cannot have access to this file, which has caused us (Judiciary) a lot of embarrassment. But we have sent one of our staff members to go for it in Embu to enable the chief magistrate to respond to our bosses in Nairobi appropriately,” a senior court official, who did not wish to be named, said.

Yesterday, the same official said the magistrate was still working on the file so that the Judiciary could "be in a position to respond to the public anxiety the death anniversary tribute had caused”.

“Once the magistrate is through with it, and after sending his comprehensive findings to our judicial headquarters in Nairobi, the matter will be made public,” the official said.

Karani’s widow said she had received phone calls from people claiming to be from the Law Society of Kenya asking for details on the matter.

“But from where can I get such details since I do not work at the Judiciary? You are better placed to seek for whatever details and facts from the court file,” she told them.

Wanjiru also claimed unknown people had called to threaten her over the obituary. She, however, reiterated that justice would only be served by bringing to book those who murdered her husband.

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Kirinyaga lawyerWachira KaraniJustice