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Long wait to know Cohen's murderers as case withdrawn

National
 Tob Cohen's widow Sarah with her lawyer Philip Murgor at Murgor`s office in Nairobi after a press conference. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The mystery behind the killing of Dutch businessman Tob Cohen will take longer to resolve after the High Court withdrew murder charges against his widow Sarah Wairimu.

Cohen’s death in September 2019 shocked the country when his decomposing body was retrieved from a septic tank at their Kitisuru home in Nairobi.

The then Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti that they will go all the way to nail the killers.

Kinoti’s promise served as a solace to Cohen’s family who travelled from the Netherlands only to witness the controversy that followed his death and delayed his burial.

The family’s three-year wait to get justice for the murder of Cohen will take longer following the decision by Justice Daniel Ogembo to allow an application by the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji to withdraw the murder case and refer it to a public inquest.

“It is important that Cohen’s death in September 2019 be subjected to public inquest to investigate the inconsistencies and contradictory statements by the investigating officers before a decision is made whether to continue with the murder case,” ruled Ogembo.

With the ex-DCI’s push to punish the two suspects in the murder of Cohen failing to take off, his relatives will now hang on the findings of a public inquest to be instituted by the DPP.

Cohen was a well-known businessman with shares in several companies in the country he called home for nearly 40 years.

Justice Ogembo while allowing the application by the DPP to withdraw the murder charge against Wairimu and her co-accused Peter Karanja said the case has taken too long to start and the only way to resolve the murder was through a public inquest.

“This is an old case of three years which has never even started and since the DPP has given sufficient reasons for filing a nolle prosequi, the court allows the application and discharges the two accused persons forthwith,” ruled Ogembo. A nolle prosequi application is where a prosecutor informs the court that they have no interest in pursuing the case but not to terminate it.

Justice Ogembo warned that Wairimu and Karanja could still be charged with the murder since the case was not terminated and only withdrawn to allow the DPP to pursue the public inquest.

“Allowing the nolle prosequi application does not mean the murder case is over. The accused persons are only discharged and not acquitted since after the inquest they can still be charged with the murder,” ruled Ogembo.

Last week, the DPP filed the application claiming that it had become difficult to prosecute Wairimu and Karanja over the contradicting statements by the investigating officer.

Haji instead asked the court to allow him to file an inquest before the magistrate’s court to provide an opportunity for all parties to be heard.

Cohen’s family led by his sister Gabriel Hannah Van Straten opposed the application to withdraw the murder charge against Wairimu and Karanja claiming that it will be an injustice.

Justice Ogembo ruled that although the family of the deceased have a stake in the case, the DPP had the power to withdraw the case without getting directions from anyone. “The DPP did not act in bad faith by withdrawing the murder case,” he said.

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