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Broken wheel of justice: Naftali Kinuthia still awaiting trial for girlfriend murder

Naftali Njami Kinuthia, the 31-year-old man accused of killing his girlfriend in April 2019, has been in remand for the past three years at Eldoret GK Prison.

Kinuthia is accused of hacking to death Ivy Wangeci, a Moi University medical student using an axe outside the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret.

The late Ivy Wangeci

Wangeci was in the final stages of completing her studies and had just finished her ward rounds at MTRH when Kinuthia allegedly accosted a few metres outside the facility’s gate.  

Kinuthia, who was 29 when he was arrested, had been denied bond by the High Court in Eldoret on the basis that he was a flight risk among other reasons, the court noted.

Kinuthia’s father, George Kinuthia, had told the court through a probation report that his son was not a flight risk as he could hire officers to provide security and even an additional car to escort him whenever he was needed in court.

“My client’s right to bail should not be denied merely on allegations advanced by the prosecution. The allegations should be strong, compelling, undeniable and convincing to this court,” Kinuthia’s lawyer Mbiu Kamau argued.

But in his ruling, judge Stephen Githinji said the reasons that had been raised by the prosecution and Wangeci family’s lawyers, were compelling enough to warrant denial of bail or bond.

During the mention of his case on March 23, 2021, Kinuthia told the court that he wanted to apply for another bond - for the third time.

In his second attempt, Kinuthia had requested to enter into a plea bargain with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but the prayers were denied.

While attending the court session virtually from Eldoret GK Prison, Kinuthia who appeared pensive, submitted his to be granted a bond to Judge Githinji.

The court instructed him to liaise with his new lawyer, Henry Kenei, but the prayers are yet to be heard and determined in court.

Interestingly, the hearing of his case failed to kick-off for the fourth time in a row after his advocate requested for the adjournment of the case to another date to allow him prepare and familiarise himself with the case.

The murder case had been set for hearing from March 23, 2021 to March 25, 2021 so that the eight witnesses lined up by the prosecution, including Wangeci’s mother, could testify.

But Kinuthia’s lawyer told the court that he had been instructed to represent the accused just a day before and was yet to be supplied with the witness statements in the case.

“Your honour, I am not ready to proceed with the case today because I was instructed to appear on record for the accused yesterday. I seek the indulgence of the court and request that we be favoured with another date,” prayed Kenei.

The prosecution had told the court that they were ready to proceed with the matter, which had been given priority by the court since hearing of the main suit had not taken place since 2019 when the case was filed in court.

The was first adjourned in November 2019 after Kinuthia, through his first lawyer Mbiu Kamau, asked the court for time to pursue a plea bargain with the DPP.

Lawyer Kamau had told Judge Githinji that his client wanted to enter into an agreement with the DPP in exchange for a lesser charge.

Kamau also objected to the trial on grounds that documentary evidence, which would have been used against his client, was supplied to him late.

But Wangeci’s family, through their lawyer, Caroline Nyakinyua, had objected to the plea bargain request, saying the family wanted the trial to proceed.

The court consented the adjournment to March 26, 2020. But the hearing was pushed to October 28, 2020.

When the case came up for hearing in October, Kamau informed the court that he was not feeling well and the case was rescheduled for mention the next day, October 29. The hearing was again pushed to March 23-25, 2021, but never took off.

Kinuthia’s lawyer stepped down in November 2020 before the office of the Chief Justice and the Pro Bono Service Committee appointed Kenei to represent the accused.

The prosecution counsel had protested against Kinuthia’s lawyer for using “delaying tactics” in commencement of the hearing of the case.

The case was on Wednesday set for hearing on May 27, 2021.

Kinuthia allegedly killed the Sixth-Year medical student in a fit of rage in Eldoret town.

A heartbroken Kinuthia had told his mother, Nancy, that he was disappointed in Wangeci, then 25, his long-time girlfriend. Both came from the same village.

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