'We can't rule out whether Tob Cohen was killed before or after wife's arrest'
The story surrounding the mysterious murder of Tob Cohen continues to unfold with startling revelations and legal disputes, leaving the public and investigators perplexed.
This is even as an inquest commissioned by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is yet to kick off.
“This will enable the contradictions that have affected the proceeding of this matter to be heard in detail by all parties. In addition, it will provide an opportunity for parties to present any information that had not been explored substantially before the court,” the DPP had said in a circular dated November 30 last year.
The murder case marked by shocking revelations and legal disputes has left the public and crime experts perplexed.
The grim details of Cohen’s murder, as disclosed by then Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, further deepened the mystery of who killed him.
Kinoti, who has since been transferred to the Public Service Commission, revealed: “Cohen was bound on his legs, hands, and neck before he was murdered, and then they hid him in an underground water tank. They took their time.”
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In a shocking turn of events, Cohen’s lifeless body was discovered in a septic tank at his Kitisuru home in Spring Valley, Nairobi. The grim discovery occurred while his wife, Sarah Wairimu, and her co-accused, Peter Karanja, had been arrested and held in police custody. Cohen, a former CEO of Philips Electronics East Africa, had been reported missing from their Lower Kabete residence between July 19 and July 20, 2019.
The circumstances surrounding Cohen’s disappearance and subsequent death raised numerous questions as the public, investigators, and prosecutors struggled to ascertain the date of his demise and the identity of his killer. The rapid arrest of Wairimu added to the mystery, with some suggesting that the DCI might be concealing vital information.
Shortly after Cohen’s death, the matter took a legal twist as a succession dispute broke out. Two wills surfaced with each side claiming theirs to be the genuine document. His widow, Sarah Wairimu asserted that she was in possession of his original will and denied the legitimacy of any other version.
An affidavit also emerged, revealing that Wairimu and Cohen started living together as husband and wife in 1998 and then later held a Kikuyu customary ceremony in July 2006. Wairimu stated that they jointly purchased a plot on Farasi Lane in 2000, registered in Cohen’s name by agreement. They began building their home on the land in 2007, asserting joint ownership due to their marriage, with equal rights for both.
On the opposing front, lawyer Chege Kirundi presented a will that he argued was the authentic original, stating that it had been unsealed in 2019, immediately following Cohen’s passing and just before his interment. Amid the fierce estate battle, when Wairimu was remanded in Lang’ata Women’s Prison, a will, which excludes Sarah Wairimu, divided his estate between his sister, nephew, and niece, and Wairimu’s lawyer was preparing to contest the will in court, citing their long-standing relationship.
This will in Kirundi’s possession purportedly excluded Wairimu from inheriting anything, instead dividing Cohen’s estate between his brother and Gabriel Van Straten. The will explained that Cohen did not have a child.
“The original will of the deceased is in my custody, having been signed by the deceased in my office,” Kirundi said, as stated in The Star on December 16, 2021, adding, “I shall continue to hold it until Wairimu has either been convicted or acquitted of the charge of murder against her.
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The court intervened by suspending access to the estate pending the resolution of the case. Police guarded the assets. Kirundi, however, refused to produce the will, citing its importance in Wairimu’s ongoing murder trial.
“Our application is intended to have the cases that have been filed by this fictitious person named Sarah Cohen struck out because there is nobody who is known by those names,” Kirundi told the court, adding, “In the lifetime of her husband, she refused to pick up the name of her husband, yet in his death, in which she is accused of participating, she picks up the name to claim a piece of the estate.”
Whereas the DCI became the only source of information, the widow filed an application in court accusing the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions of contempt. Through her lawyer, Philip Murgor, she alleged that these agencies violated a court order issued by Justice Jessie Lessit on September 16, which prohibited them from discussing the murder case’s investigations and evidence in the media. However, Kinoti’s lawyer stated that they had not yet received the papers.
A top detective told The Nairobian that as the investigation into Cohen’s murder continues, doubts persist. He stated: “We can’t rule out whether Cohen was killed before or after his wife’s arrest. We need more investigations to determine and investigate when he was killed, his last movements, and the two wills.
Wairimu claimed Cohen was murdered by people who were well known but who were enjoying the protection of DCI officers.
“My husband was murdered by people who wanted to grab our Sh500 million matrimonial home in Kitisuru. They had me arrested on August 28, 2020, then colluded with investigators to implicate me after planting his body in a septic tank while I was in custody,” she swore.
The uncertainty surrounding the case prompted DPP Noordin Haji to apply for the withdrawal of the murder charges against Sarah Wairimu and her co-accused, Peter Karanja.
DPP Haji explained, "This will enable the contradictions that have affected the proceeding of this matter to be heard in detail by all parties. In addition, it will provide an opportunity for parties to present any information that has not been explored substantially before the court."
As the Tob Cohen murder case continues to unravel, more questions than answers persist, leaving both investigators and the public eagerly awaiting further developments in this perplexing saga.
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