On 4 July 2016, Kenyan human rights defenders launched street protests calling for justice in the case of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani whose body was recovered from Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, on 1 July 2016, alongside that of his client, Josephat Mwenda and their taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri. The three men were abducted as they were returning home from Josephat Mwenda’s court hearing around 12:00 pm on 23 June 2016.
Willie Kimani was a human rights lawyer who was affiliated with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and who served on the board of a human rights organisation known as Rights Promotion Protection (Formerly Release Political Prisoners Trust – RPP). In his capacity as a human rights lawyer, he also worked at the International Justice Mission (IJM) in Nairobi, Kenya. The IJM is a USA-based international organisation that focuses on legal protection of vulnerable populations, including people experiencing poverty, from abuses of power at the government level.
Approximately 300 people protested in Nairobi in response to the killing of human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri on 4 July 2016. The three bodies were found on 1 July 2016 in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, northeast of Nairobi, with apparent signs of torture including chopped-off fingers, gouged eyeballs and with their arms tied behind their backs.
They had been abducted on 23 June 2016 in Nairobi following a court hearing for a complaint that Josephat Mwenda had filed after he had reportedly been shot and injured by a police officer in April 2015. After filing a complaint against the police, Josephat Mwenda was subsequently charged with crimes of possessing drugs, gambling in public and resisting arrest. As his lawyer, Willie Kimani was defending Josephat Mwenda through all legal proceedings.
On 18 July 2016, four police officers were charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwenda and their driver Joseph Muiruri.
On 20 September 2021, High Court Judge Jessie Lessit ruled that these 4 police officers and one civilian have a case to answer.