In February 2008, Peter Kariuki Mathi was sentenced to death for violently robbing Dominic Kihuri Muriuki of a motor vehicle, mobile phone and Sh700.
But nine years later, the man whose evidence was relied on by the magistrate to condemn the suspect to death has confessed to being used to ‘fix’ Mr Mathi.
He now wants him released, claiming he has not had peace since he lied in court.
“I feel guilty for occasioning the conviction and sentencing of the accused, which would have not happened if I was not coerced into giving false information,” said Mr Muriuki.
Mathi’s predicament might turn out to be a classic example of miscarriage of justice.
He has filed a petition at the High Court seeking to be set free, arguing that his rights had been violated for the nine years he has spent at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison waiting to be hanged for a crime he never committed.
The incident leading to the conviction happened along Ngong Road on April 9, 2004. Muriuki was driving a car he had hired from Elite Car Hire Company when he was attacked by two men armed with a pistol.
The robbers made away with the car, his mobile phone and Sh700.
After reporting the robbery to police, Muriuki was called one week later by the company’s managing director and informed that the car had been recovered and that he was required to record a statement at Gigiri Police Station.
“I was shown the accused person as one of my assailants but I said he was not one of the people who attacked me.”
He said when he insisted that Mathi was not one of the robbers who attacked him, he was bundled into a police car and taken to Muthaiga Police Station where he was assaulted and threatened with death. He was then ordered to sign a witness statement stating that he had positively identified Mathi as the one who violently robbed him.
The trial magistrate relied entirely on this testimony when Mathi was charged with robbery with violence and sentenced to death.
Now the witness wants out of the testimony that may have sent an innocent man to the gallows.
“The whole thing has been haunting me. I cannot be at peace when I think of a person facing death because I was forced to lie,” said Muriuki.
The suspect was arrested on his way to Kisii for business on April 14, 2004, and taken to Gigiri Police Station on allegations of robbing Muriuki.
He was later charged with robbery with violence and after a four-year trial, was sentenced to death in February 2008.