Killing of advocate meant to intimidate lawyers, say judicial officers

East Africa Law Society President Nassor Khamis Mohammed (right) together with Law Society of Kenya chair Isaac Okero (centre) at Hilton Hotel where they addressed the media on July 2, 2016 over the killing of three people among them a high court advocate. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Mr Khaemba vowed judicial officers would support Law Society of Kenya’s quest for justice for slain lawyer Willie Kimani.
  • Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association secretary-general Bryan Khaemba said the killing of the advocate was an act of intimidation.

In a case that has shocked Kenyans, startled the legal fraternity and shined a harsh global spotlight on the issue of police impunity, the lawyer, Mr Willy Kimani, his client and a taxi driver were abducted outside a courthouse, allegedly held in a police post and then killed and their bodies thrown into a river in Machakos.

Judges and magistrates have backed lawyers’ one-week strike over the killing of advocate Willie Kimani, saying they will support whatever decision Law Society of Kenya takes to pursue justice.

Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association secretary-general Bryan Khaemba said the killing of the advocate was an act of intimidation meant to instil fear among lawyers handling sensitive cases.

“We do not understand why an innocent advocate who is simply a mouth piece of his client will eventually pay the ultimate price on a case which he had no personal interest. He was simply conducting his professional duties,” Mr Khaemba added.

The judicial officers called on the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe the advocate’s death “so that those behind the heinous acts are brought to justice.”

The human rights lawyer Kimani, together with his client Josphat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, were abducted on June 22 on the way from Mavoko court where the client had lodged a case against an Administration Police officer.

Following a public uproar, including street protests by lawyers in the city and in other towns, police acted leading to the discovery of their bodies in Machakos County.

The three bodies were retrieved stashed in gunny bags from Kilimambogo River in Ol-Donyo Sabuk on Friday.

Immediately following the discovery, Law Society of Kenya demanded the resignation of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, police boss Joseph Boinnet and deputy police boss Samuel Arachi over the extra-judicial killings.

Accompanying the judicial officers' secretary general at the press conference was Justice Hedwig Ong’undi Imbosa.

Justice Ong’undi was appointed in January 2016 by the then Chief Justice Willy Mutunga to head the new anti-corruption and economic crimes division of the High Court.


East Africa Law Society president Nassor Mohammed said the regional body had learnt of the killing of Mr Kimani and his two colleagues with horror, and called for expeditious and thorough investigations into circumstances surrounding the deaths.

LSK chairman Isaac Okero, who accompanied several lawyers from the East African region at a press conference in Nairobi yesterday, said lawyers were stunned and outraged.
“We will, beginning Monday, down tools for a week to allow our members attend court on Monday for court’s pronouncement on the case and also express what this killing means for the LSK,” he said.
He said the decision for lawyers to go on strike had been arrived at after a lengthy meeting of the LSK governing council on Saturday.
Mr Okero also disclosed several members of his association had come out with complaints that they had been threatened by rogue police officers after registering complaints against them with the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).

“There is cause for alarm when elements in the police think that taking out members of the legal profession is fair game. A situation where lawyers and ordinary Kenyans go about their normal business at the risk of elimination is unacceptable,” he said.

The LSK boss likened rising incidents in which Kenyans were dying at the hands of police as reminiscent of “1970s Chile” adding “Kenya is no Chile” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to book.

He was referring to a reign of terror in the South American country where thousands were killed and disappeared under the rule of military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

He said the arrest of three Administration Police officers, as key suspects in the murder, was a welcome development but added that the killing should never have happened in the first place.

The regional lawyers’ organisation said it condemned the failure of the government to live up to provisions of the East African Community, African Union and United Nations principles on protection of human and people’s rights as well as rule of law among others, and called for speedy investigations.

It further urged for those responsible for the “heinous crime”, whether civilians or police officers, to be brought to justice and “prosecuted to the full extent of the law” to allay fears of complicity by government in “this terrible calamity.”

“The EALS adds its voice to the calls for the institution of measures to hold police officers accountable for violations of human rights and other forms of misconduct as a vital step in ending impunity and establishing safety and security for all Kenyans,” said the EALS President.

(Editing by Joel Muinde)