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After the brutal killing of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani in June 2016, justice was finally served in Kenya seven years later through a court ruling.

Human rights attorney Willie Kimani was from Kenya. In Nairobi, he worked for the International Justice Mission (I.J.M.). The late attorney also served as a board member for Right Promotion Protection and was a member of the Kenyan Law Society. In June 2016, three police officers and a civilian were found guilty of killing a lawyer and two other people by a Kenyan court.

The incident sparked widespread outrage and revealed the Kenyan Police’s alleged involvement in a number of extrajudicial killings and missing person cases. After seven years, justice has finally been done. In today’s article, let’s take a close look at the murder investigation of Willie Kimani.

Willie Kimani Death Case: Three Cops & One Citizen Found Guilty

On June 23, 2016, three men—Josephat Mwenda, Joseph Muiruri, and human rights attorney Willie Kimani—went missing. Joseph was a taxi driver, and Josephat was Willie’s customer. Later, it was discovered that they had been kidnapped by the four Kenyan Administration Police officers.

Four Policemen abducted and killed Willie Kimani, his client and taxi driver, seven years ago
Four Policemen abducted and killed Willie Kimani, his client and taxi driver, seven years ago (Image Source: Bizna Kenya)

Authorities found their bodies on July 1 of the same year, their arms tied behind their backs, in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River. The bodies of Willie, Mwenda, and Muiruri also bore evidence of torture. On July 18, 2016, four Administration Police officers—Leonard Mwangi, Silvia Wanjiku, Stephen Cheburet, and Fredrick Leliman—were charged following a three-week investigation.

They were accused of Willie’s and two other men’s disappearances as well as three counts of murder. On June 24, 2021, the family of the late lawyer requested that the murder trial be expedited. One month later, the four government employees were found guilty of killing Kimani, his client, and the taxi driver.

Fredrick Leliman, The Murderer of Kimani, Has Been Sentenced To Death

The four defendants were facing sentences ranging from death row to 20 years in prison. The first defendant, Fredrick Leliman, received a death sentence on February 3, 2023. Stephen Cheburet, the second defendant, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. The third and fourth accused, Sylvia Wanjiku and Peter Ngugi, received sentences of 24 and 20 years in prison, respectively.

One of Willie Kimani’s murderers, Fredrick Leliman, was sentenced to death
One of Willie Kimani’s murderers, Fredrick Leliman, was sentenced to death (Image Source: The Standard)

The sentences will run concurrently, Justice Jessie Lesiit ruled at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi. According to the judge, the four men killed the human rights attorney, his client, and the taxi driver in “most foul” circumstances.

Lesiit also instructed the management of the prison to deduct from each convict’s sentence the time they had spent incarcerated during the trial.

Willie Kimani Was A Family Man With A Spouse & Two Children

Willie Kimani was born to Paul Kinuthia and Elizabeth Wambui on April 21, 1984. He was married to Hanna Wanjiku and had two children.

Hanna, who is now a widow, expressed that the court’s verdict, while unable to bring Willie back, provided justice and a source of comfort for the family. She also noted that Willie’s death would not go unacknowledged, and he would not be counted among those who suffered torture and lost their lives without receiving justice.

“No one should suffer through what our friends went through, especially from the very people tasked with protecting them,” said Benson Shamala, Kenyan director of International Justice Mission.

Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), which was established ten years ago, has received more than 6,000 complaints, though few officers have been prosecuted.

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