The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) appears to have set up the stage for a fresh legal faceoff in the case involving the alleged murder of Dutch billionaire Tob Cohen when it indicated that under the law, his estranged wife, Sarah Wairimu, is not entitled to inherit any of his properties if found to have been involved in his killing.
According to a series of tweets by the DCI on Wednesday morning, for every act of commission or omission in any crime the perpetrators singularly or jointly are accountable to the law.
It went on to cite Section 96(1)of the Law of Succession Act, which states: ” Notwithstanding any provision of this Act, a person who, while sane, murders another person shall not be entitled directly or indirectly to any share in the estate of the murdered person, and the persons beneficially entitled to shares in the estate of the murdered person shall be ascertained as though the murderer had died immediately before the murdered person.”
The move comes barely two days after Wairimu’s lawyer Philip Murgor sought her release on bail so as to fight for her property rights.
This is after a section of the media reported the existence of a will that bestowed his vast estate, including the Ksh 400 million Kitsuru home, in his brother and sister. Murgor told the court she was entitled to a 50% stake in property jointly owned with her husband.
Lady Justice Jessie Lessit subsequently granted Murgor’s prayers that the media be gagged from reporting on information that is yet to be produced in court. The gag order has, however, not gone down well with media practitioners, who say it is not grounded in law, is blanket and unenforcable.
Other parties, including the prosecution and defence teams, were equally barred from talking to the media regarding the case.
The DCI’s latest move has been met with mixed reactions with critics saying its work is to investigate and enforce the law and the sleuths should leave the interpretation bit to the courts. They averred it could undermine the principle of being deemed innocent until proven guilty.
Cohen’s body found in a septic tank
However, others say the DCI is within its mandate to sensitive the public on various laws, saying it could serve as a preventive and deterrent measure.
The DCI says under Cap 244 of the Constitution of Kenya, it is duty-bound to inter alia prevent corruption and “promote and practice transparency and accountability.”
Cohen’s body was discovered in a septic tank at his home in Kitsuru, Nairobi last week. He had been reported missing on July 19 after family members failed to reach him on phone.
He had earlier reported that Wairimu, whom he was seeking to divorce, had attempted to harm him and expressed fear for his life.
Wairimu, who police consider a prime suspect, will return to court to take a plea on September 26. An autopsy to determine the cause of his death is set to get underway at Chiromo mortuary on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, she, through Murgor, opposed the choice of government pathologist Peter Ndegwa claiming he was biased on account of remarks he met at Cohen’s home in the presence of DCI Director George Kinoti after the discovery of the body.
Cohen, a former CEO of the Philips Electronics Group of Companies, was the founder of Tobs Kenya Golf Safaris, one of Kenya’s most successful tour and travel firms. Apart from the Kitsuru residence, the couple was also constructing a multi-billion hotel in her native Nyeri county but the venture is said to have stalled in recent months.