(Continued from Cecilia I)
“What is going on?” the magistrate asks.
“Someone has fainted at the back,” the court clerk replies. “I think it is Advocate Maxwell.”
“He has a matter here today?”
“As an accused person.”
“I see. But isn’t one of the witnesses in that case a medical doctor? Is he present?”
“Yes, your honor,” the prosecutor replies. “Doctor Oloo?”
“He is already attending to the advocate,” one of the lawyers at the front row responds.
“Okay, let’s adjourn for fifteen minutes and resume when wakili gets better.”
Maxwell’s lawyer springs to his feet.
“Your honor, given the circumstances, I request that we adjourn…”
“Not a chance, counsel. We will resume in 15 minutes, and I expect to find you here.”
“Your honor, my client is clearly not well. It is unreasonable to subject him to a hearing under the circumstances.”
“Fortunately for us counsel, we have a qualified medical doctor in the house today. I will go by his opinion. If he decides that your client is unfit to attend the hearing, then I will listen. But if he says that your client is fit to proceed, then I expect you to be ready. See you in fifteen minutes.”
She stands to leave even before the clerk taps the table; she is out of the room even before people stand up.
Dr. Oloo can tell, even before he examines the old man, that he is faking it. By just looking at the eyeballs behind the closed eyelids, he can tell that the old man is very conscious.
“Please give me some space,” he tells the crowd. “I want to examine the patient. I am a doctor.”
Everyone moves a step back, and Dr. Oloo kneels next to the elderly lawyer. He feels his pulse and gently loosens the tie. He then unbuttons the shirt and places a stethoscope on the old man’s chest. He shakes his head solemnly.
“The patient has a clogged chest and that is why he has fainted. His lungs are unable to take in air. It is a critical condition that can kill him within minutes. I will have to puncture a hole through his chest to relieve the pressure…”
“You cannot touch my client!” the old man’s lawyer shouts, pushing through the crowd. “I don’t trust you. You are working for the opposing side and you want my client to die. My client needs to go to hospital.”
Dr. Oloo eyes the man evenly. Unlike his client, the middle-aged lawyer is neatly dressed in a nice, dark brown suit, a white shirt and a brown tie. His hair is neatly cut, and his shoes polished to a shine. He moves his hands in such a way that he ensures that his silver wrist watch is on prominent display. He would pass for a corporate executive, except that when he opens his mouth, he shouts like a tout at a matatu stage.
“I am a medical doctor, and I took an oath to protect lives. This man will not make it to a hospital unless an urgent intervention is made. I am going to make that intervention right here. Sue me later if you wish. Now get out of my way, I need to urgently punch a hole in your client’s chest to save his life.”
“Do you have anesthesia?” Cecilia asks, immediately realizing what the doctor is doing.
“No, of course not. I am not in a hospital. All I have is a first aid kit in my briefcase, that contains surgical spirit for sterilization, cotton wool and surgical blades. The procedure I am going to perform is going to hurt like hell, but it will save his life.”
He pulls out the instruments from his briefcase. He pours spirit onto a cotton wool and wipes a small section of the old man’s chest. The he takes a surgical blade and maps out a small area on the chest.
“Wakili, if you can hear, me, I want you to remain very still. You are going to feel a jolt of pain, but it going to save your life.”
The old man coughs once and sits up.
“Where am I? Who are all these people?”
“You are in court, Wakili. You fainted. You seem to be having congestion in your chest, and I need to do a small procedure to cure it before you get to hospital.”
“No, I am fine. I don’t need any procedure.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. It is probably my blood pressure that shot up. I believe if I take a glass of water, I will be fine.”
The doctor instructs one of the police officers to give the old man some water, and then takes out a blood pressure testing machine.
“Your blood pressure has returned to normalcy. You are fine now. You just have a seat and take your water.”
The doctor confers with the court clerk, and the clerk disappears through the door that the magistrate went through earlier. Minutes later, he taps the door, and everyone stands up as the magistrate resumes her seat.
“Dr. Oloo I will start with you. Is Advocate Maxwell fit to continue with today’s sitting?”
“Yes, your honor, he is. But I suggest that we start with him so that we don’t keep him for long.”
She shifts her attention to Maxwell’s advocate.
“Counsel, I take it that you are ready to proceed?”
“Yes, your honor,” the advocate replies meekly. His game plan for today’s sitting has backfired.
“Great. I will hear this case first before I do the call over. The prosecutor had requested that this hearing be done in camera because the victim is still a minor, so I will request everyone to clear from the room, except those connected to the case. Prosecutor, kindly arrange your witnesses so that they can also step out of the room until they are called.”
There is a slight commotion as people clear from the room. Maxwell is walked to the dock by a police officer, but he is given a chair so that he doesn’t have to stand. Sharon is the first witness to take the stand, so Cecilia steps out the room. As a practice, witnesses who have not testified are not allowed to stay in the room when another witness is testifying. Cecilia knows that Maxwell’s advocate will try to humiliate Sharon, but she hopes that the magistrate will protect her.
“Hi, you must be Officer Cecilia.”
Cecilia turns to face the person who seems to know her. They have never met before, that much she is sure. But he is one of the lawyers who was seated in the courtroom. The magistrate, Lenah, is usually very strict, and he usually doesn’t allow even advocates to remain in the room when a private case is going on. He insists on absolute privacy.
“Yes I am. Have we met before?”
“Not officially, no. But there is a case you handled where my cousin was the victim and she spoke very highly of you. Her name is Wakesho.”
The name doesn’t ring a bell. She has handled so many cases in her time as a police officer that she can hardly remember all the victims. Some victims do stand out, like Sharon, and she finds that she can remember their cases for years. But those are just a few cases; for the most part, she handles a case and forgets it.
“What was the case about?”
“It was a burglary. A couple of men broke into her house while she was away at work and stole her household items. You led the investigation and actually got the men arrested. Most of the electronics were recovered, and she has never forgotten you. She told me that story when this case was trending in the media. When I heard from my colleagues in the court that you were the tough detective Cecilia, I said I must pass my cousin’s gratitude when I got the chance.”
Cecilia is certain that it is a case of mistaken identity because she has never handled a burglary case in her life. Ever since she was seconded to the DCI, she has handled mainly murders and sexual offences. Before that, she was a driver and body guard to a judge. It is that judge who actually pulled strings for her to become a detective, because she told her that that was her wish. The judge is now retired, but they have remained friends. The older lady is like a mentor to her, and she is the one who has been pushing to further her education. Cecilia already has a degree in criminology, and she mauling over a decision to do her masters.
“Tell your cousin that I was just doing my job, but I am grateful for the kind words,” Cecilia says, deciding to play along. She doesn’t want to burst the bubble of the youthful lawyer and his cousin. They engage in small talk and the lawyer gives her his card.
His name is George, and he is a Senior Associate in one of the larger firms in Nairobi.
Honorable Lenah is a very efficient judicial officer. She does not entertain time wasting or anything that might hinder the smooth running of her court sessions. Within an hour, all the prosecutions witnesses have testified, including Cecilia. Maxwell’s lawyer tried various tricks as he was cross examining witnesses, but the magistrate saw through all of them and called him to order. The prosecutor closes his case, and the magistrate calls for a five-minute break. She steps out of the room but asks everyone else to stay put.
She returns after ten minutes and gives her ruling.
“After reviewing the evidence presented before this court by the prosecution, I am satisfied that the accused has a case to answer. Counsel for the accused, how do you wish to proceed?”
“The defense will call its witnesses your honor, and they will give sworn testimony. Perhaps we can have a mention in a month’s time…”
“No way counsel. I am setting the defense hearing two weeks from now. Prepare your witness statements, file and serve within seven days. I need your witnesses here on that day. Dr. Oloo?”
“Yes, your honor?”
“I am writing an order to your boss, the Medical Superintendent, to examine Advocate Maxwell the day before the hearing to ensure there are no medical surprises. I also want a doctor and a nurse available on the day of the hearing just in case Counsel Maxwell falls ill again.”
She rolls her eyes as she says that, making it clear that she knows the old lawyer was faking illness.
“Yes honor. Perhaps someone can give me a copy of the order so that I can take it to my superiors?”
“The court clerk will assist you.”
“That is a most unusual direction, your honor,” Maxwell’s lawyer says, standing up. “I am not sure it is necessary…”
“I decide what is necessary, counsel. See you in 14 days’ time.”
Cecilia hitched a ride in the police van in the morning, but the van will not be returning to the station until all the cases have been heard. Cecilia does not intend to hang around the courts until then. As she is walking towards the matatu stage, a sleek Audi slows to a stop. The driver rolls down the windows. It is the lawyer called George.
“Come on, officer. I can drop you at the police station.”
Cecilia wants to refuse, but the truth is that this courtroom is in a remote market center, about 50 kilometers from the police station. It will take hours before a matatu fills up. George leans and opens the front door, and she slides in.
“I didn’t know firms such as yours take up criminal matters, especially in small outposts like this,” she says as the vehicle gathers speed.
“You look like a smart girl, Cecilia. But you didn’t even ask yourself how quickly I concluded my case. The fact is, I am not even a lawyer. I came specifically to pick you up. My name is Jonah, and I am Maxwell’s son. You will pay for what you are doing to my father.”
Cecilia instinctively reaches for her weapon.
“Relax sweetheart,” someone says from behind her, before she can reach the pistol. He places cold metal on the nape of her neck and then slowly disarms her. “Jonah is not as stupid as you think. We came prepared.”
Cecilia knows that she has fallen into a trap, and this could very well be the way her life ends. The Audi is flying, but not in the direction of the police station. George, or Jonah, or whatever his name is, has taken a diversion that will lead them towards Nyeri.
For the first time in her adult life, Cecilia is truly afraid.
Image by Michal Jormoluk from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/car-audi-auto-automotive-vehicle-604019/
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