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Pastor linked to fake marriage freed by high court

NEWS

Pastor Christopher Mutira of International Pentecostal Wholeness Church has been set free by the High Court after it was established there was no proof that they forged a marriage certificate.

Mutira and Marilyn Mercy Wanjiru had in May been jailed for one year after they were found guilty of forging the document to enable her to inherit a tycoon's multi-billion-shilling estate.

The two had allegedly committed the offense after the death of Kanwalgit Chadda in a bid to lie that there existed a valid marriage between Wanjiru and the deceased before the tycoon died of a heart attack.

After trial, they were found guilty of forgery. The two were ordered to pay a Sh200,000 fine, and in default, serve one year in jail for forgery. On the count, the two were ordered to pay Sh50,000 each or serve six months imprisonment.

Aggrieved, they moved to the High Court arguing that they were wrongly convicted. The prosecution called four witnesses.

The first to testify before Judge Diana Mochache Kavedza was George Gichihi.

He told the court that in 2018, he was in charge of approving marriage registration certificates at the registrar of marriages. According to him, the deceased applied for a special license on July 26, 2018. He told the court that the applicants were Wanjiru, 49 years old, and Singh, 76.

From the registrar's record, the marriage was officiated by Mutira, hence, Gichihi testified the certificate was issued regularly.

The other witness was Chief Inspector of Police Daniel Gutu. The officer testified that a forensic analysis of the deceased's signature and what was in the marriage certificate indicated they were authored by two different people.

Further, the State called Parminder Singh Chatta. He narrated that Singh never married in his life. According to him, his late brother never disclosed he was married to Wanjiru.

He argued that his brother's death and subsequent cremation were peculiar as it was done in haste.

The lead investigator in the case also testified. Police Constable Dickson Gitonga said he found out that Wanjiru was Singh's employee. He said the registrar of marriages conceded that there was an anomaly in the marriage certificate.

Wanjiru gave her side of the story. The 55-year-old told the court she met Singh in 1989 and got into a romantic relationship. As love life sometimes has ups and downs, she testified that they parted ways but rekindled the flames in 1999. According to her, she lived with the deceased from 2013 as a wife and sealed the union with a marriage on July 27, 2018, in church. She said Singh was Christian.

When Mutira was asked about Wanjiru and Singh, he testified that he had known the deceased since 2017, and one year later, Wanjiru requested that he marry them.

The marriage, according to Mutira, was a 10-guest ceremony that was also attended by one pastor Philomena. Wanjiru and Mutira also called a private forensic examiner. Martin Papa told the court the signatures on the marriage certificate and that presented by the prosecution were from the same author.

After hearing rival arguments, Justice Kavedza on October 12 said there was no evidence to prove the two were the ones who forged the marriage certificate.

"I find that the trial court relied on logical reasoning to convict the appellants, whereas there was no actual evidence that served to prove the case beyond any reasonable doubt," she ruled.

She also discharged them from the offence of uttering a false document.

"I have carefully re-evaluated all the evidence on record, but I found no evidence that proved that it is the appellant who uttered the marriage certificate which was alleged to be forged," noted the judge.

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