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Mystery surrounds death of Idriss Mukhtar's shooter in police cell

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Questions on Friday emerged on the circumstances under which the main suspect in the shooting of former Garissa County minister Idriss Mukhtar died in a police cell, with reports that the family was yesterday denied a chance to view the body.

David Mwai, who was suspected to have been the man captured on CCTV shooting Idriss at close range, died on Thursday while in a cell at Parklands Police Station and, though police sources pointed at suicide, the family thinks otherwise.


Mr Mwai’s sister Esther Wanjiru is the last family member who spoke with him before his death. Yesterday, neither Ms Wanjiru nor her family could be allowed access to his body, according to activist Boniface Mwangi, who has taken up the role of advocating for the family.

“They have been told that a post-mortem will be done on the body; so they should return on Monday,” Mr Mwangi told the Nation Friday evening.

Moreover, Mr Mwangi said, Mr Mwai’s wife has not been traced since Tuesday when she was arrested with the prime suspect.


The family of the late Mwai called on the DPP to open investigations into how he died at the police cells.

“I suspect that there is some foul play,” she told the Saturday Nation, accompanied by her aunt Ruth Kibugi. “My brother called me on Wednesday while in police cells and told me that some people had promised to bust him out of the cells, but I discouraged him,” she said.

Ms Wanjiru said that her brother, a 28 year old father of two, had confessed to the crime. “He told me that he did it. I advised him not to take any other extra-legal option that he was being promised. I told him to let the law take its course,” she said.


The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti, who has taken over the investigations into what appears to have been an attempt on Mr Idriss’ life, could not be reached over Mr Mwai’s alleged suicide but sources close to the prober said an inquiry file had been opened into the matter.

“The way to go is to open an inquiry file to look at the matter before any conclusions can be made. Also, a post-mortem examination will have to be conducted to ascertain the exact cause of death.

“It is not common for suicides to occur in police cells because we take every precaution to ensure the safety of those in our custody and that is why we do not allow items like belts in police cells,” said a senior police officer privy to the case.


Friday’s occurrences have compounded the mystery around the shooting of Idriss, a 33-year-old holder of a Master’s in Business Administration and a PhD student at Kenyatta University, who is currently in a coma at Nairobi Hospital with a bullet lodged in his head.

Idriss was shot in Nairobi’s Kileleshwa on the night of August 19. CCTV footage from the scene shows a lone gunman walking into his compound as the gate was ajar. He then fired three shots at Idriss’ then walked away, boarding an awaiting motorcycle on his way out.

Our enquiries revealed that the relationship between Idriss and Garissa Governor Ali Korane — one of the people quizzed over the shooting — is a tale of friends-turned-foes.


According to Idriss’ father Dr Aden Mukhtar, the ex-county minister was one of the financiers and campaigners of Governor Korane ahead of last year’s General Election as he sought to unseat the county’s first Governor, Nathif Jama.

Then, said Dr Mukhtar, there was optimism that Mr Korane would return the favour when he clinched the governorship. After all, they are from the same clan.

At the time when Mr Korane was elected, Idriss had spent several months without a job as he had earlier been fired by Governor Jama from his post as the county’s Finance executive.

Idriss, alongside two other county ministers who were also sacked by the Jama government, later sued and were awarded Sh17 million each.