Juliet Kikaka Kavinga Case: The Judgment

7 months pregnant  juliets pic on top of casket  fileing past juliets casket juliet committee member speaks to fidelia staff member  getting ready to go

As had been predicted by Kenya Stockholm Blog, there were no court proceedings during judgment in the Juliet Kavinga murder case in Stockholm on Tuesday 14th November. The judgment was simply handed over on a piece of paper at the reception on the 3rd floor of the Court in Handen. Susan Kikaka, Juliet’s sister who arrived in Sweden last week, received the judgment. She was accompanied by three ladies and two gentlemen, all Kenyans resident in Sweden.

The Judge acknowledged that there were several circumstances in the case that suggested that the suspect may have murdered Juliet but that there was no concrete evidence that could be used to convict him.

According to the Judge, there was no murder scene despite strenuous technical investigations in the house of the accused. A murder weapon has not been found while there was no evidence to show that Juliet’s body was carried in a lorry that was hired by the suspect. The lorry also underwent technical investigation.

“It could not be shown that Juliet died at the time that was suggested by the Prosecutor”, wrote Judge Jan Bjerlöw. The Judge reduced all the major arguments that were presented by the Prosecution and released the accused.

A witness who lived with Juliet in the same flat told the Court during trial that someone visited the flat after 13th May 2005 when Juliet is suspected to have been killed. According to KSB log of Court proceedings, the witness said that when he arrived home one day, he noticed that the balcony door was slightly open and that he could notice some droplets of water on the toilet seat.

He said that as far as he knew, only Juliet had a key to the flat. This point was mentioned by the Judge and although he was not explicit, the insinuation in the judgment is that Juliet might have returned to the flat after she was supposed to have been killed. The witness said that he did not know who visited the flat while he also said that he did not know whether the mother of the woman who owned the flat had an extra key.

A strand of hair belonging to the accused was found in the tarpaulin that was used to wrap Juliet’s body. According to the Judge, the method that was used to analyze the hair was based on an examination of the mitochondria of the DNA and not the DNA itself. The Judge observed that the two processes “do not have the same evidence value”.

“Even if it could be demonstrated that it is a question of hair from the accused, it doesn’t mean that he killed her or that he was near the body when it was wrapped in the tarpaulin”, wrote the Judge. “The hair could have come from him or Juliet in an earlier meeting between them”, wrote the Judge.

The Prosecution had argued that the motive for murder is that the accused did not want Juliet to deliver the baby and that the suspect had wanted Juliet to conduct an abortion. According to the Judge, A witness testified that Juliet had told the accused that he was not the father of her unborn child.

The Judge noted that the suspect was disappointed when Juliet informed her that she was pregnant and that he was the father of the unborn child. “He thought that their relationship was new and that it was not conducive for him to have a child. His wish was that Juliet conduct an abortion”, the Judge wrote.

During the trial, the suspect told the Court that when Juliet refused to conduct an abortion, he accepted her decision and that it was for this reason that he thought that it was best if Juliet moved to his house. Unfortunately, the relationship between Juliet and the suspect’s two children did not work out and in the middle of January 2005, Juliet moved out.

In dismissing the motive, the Judge wrote that “It has not been shown that the accused attacked or threatened Juliet or other women he has had a relationship with even though two friends of Juliet testified that the accused began to treat her badly after he realized that Juliet was pregnant”.

Another point is that the suspect had an alibi at about the time Juliet is said to have been killed. According to the suspect, he collected his children from the day care center then returned home to cook food together with his new girlfriend at about the time he was supposed to have killed Juliet. The girlfriend, who has since broken her relationship with the suspect and who hails from Africa, also testified in court during the trial.

The Prosecution had argued that the tarpaulin, the string and other gadgets that were used to wrap Juliet’s body were bought at Claes Olsson in Farsta where the accused lived at the time Juliet is said to have been murdered. A receipt was retrieved from the Supermarket chain that supported this evidence.

According to the Judge, “Goods that were purchased from Claes Olsson could not be linked to the accused”. The Judge also wrote that “It has not been shown that the materials that were bought there have anything to do with the wrapping of Juliet’s body”.

The Judge wrote that a tape that was found on the tarpaulin resembled many types of tapes available. The Prosecution had argued that a tape that was found in the house of the accused might have been used to wrap the body in a tarpaulin because they were the same.

Juliet’s body was sunk in water using a body building metallic load whose model and weight was similar to the one that was found in the house of the accused. In dismissing this piece of evidence, the Judge wrote that “this is not heavy piece of evidence that the accused killed Juliet”.

The Prosecution had posited that the accused must have shot Juliet with a hunting gun he was licensed to carry. During trial, the accused told the Court that in the 90s when he was seeking his hunting license, he fired three shots by shooting fake doves and that since then, he has never fired the gun again. According to the Judge, there is no “heavy evidence” to suggest that the accused used the gun to kill Juliet.

When her body was found, a polythene bag from Konsum supermarket was inserted in Juliet’s head to cover it, probably because she was bleeding. Police investigation found that the suspect bought two similar bags at the Konsum supermarket at Farsta where he lived at about the time Juliet is suspected to have been murdered.

There was no concrete comment on this piece of evidence although the suspect told the Court during trial that he normally separated “greens” from other products when he went shopping to explain why he might have bought two plastic bags at the time of shopping.

In October 2005, the suspect phoned Juliet but there was no answer. This was four months after Juliet was supposed to have been killed. “The suspect’s explanation as to why, after a long period of not having telephoned, called Juliet in October 2005 is plausible”, wrote the Judge.

“The Court can concentrate that there are several circumstances that cannot rule out that (xyz) killed Juliet but it is far from certain that this is the case”, concluded Judge Jan Bjerlöw. The prosecution was given up to 5th December 2006 to lodge an appeal with the High court.

Okoth Osewe: makosewe@gmail.com