The High Court in Mombasa has temporarily stopped the exhumation of the body of businessman Abbas Anverali Nazerali.
His widow, Mrs Kiran Nazerali, and her brother-in-law Shakir Anwar are divided on what caused the death of the tycoon.
While Mr Anwar wants the body of his brother exhumed for a postmortem to be conducted to establish the cause of his death, Mrs Nazerali asserts that there is no need for the procedure, saying that her husband died from a kidney infection.
She obtained a court order suspending the process.
Justice Anne Ong’injo issued the stay orders after Mrs Nazerali moved to the court lamenting that her husband’s body could be exhumed and render her intention to appeal against the exhumation order useless.
The widow, through her lawyers Mohamed Balala and Shorne Lijodi, had asked the High Court under a certificate of urgency to block the exhumation.
This was three days after a Magistrate Court granted the Directorate of Criminal Investigations permission to exhume the body for a postmortem.
Senior Resident Magistrate Vincent Adet last Thursday allowed the DCI to exhume the body so that the cause of death could be established.
Issuing the exhumation orders, Mr Adet said the DCI had demonstrated, through documentation tabled in court, that the events that followed Mr Nazerali death should be investigated.
The magistrate ruled that the cause of death could only be established by conducting an autopsy.
“To succeed in that, the body has to be exhumed to aid in conducting the inquest,” said the magistrate.
Mr Nazerali died three months ago in the emergency wing of Mombasa Hospital. Mr Anwar suspected foul play and reported the matter to the police, prompting the DCI to ask a court for orders to exhume the body.
State counsel Hillary Isiaho told the lower court that the circumstances of the businessman’s death and the events that followed called for further investigation.
“To establish the truth, we ask the court to grant the order of exhumation as requested,” said Mr Isiaho.
Mr Anwar’s lawyer, Michael Oloo, argued that no one was being accused of doing anything wrong and that the tycoon’s brother wanted to know the cause of death and put the matter to rest.
“We have nothing against anyone. Mr Anwar only wants to clear the doubts on his mind and let the matter rest,” he said.
Mr Anwar alleged that his brother died and was buried without his siblings being informed.
The police alleged that Mrs Nazerali and a friend, Mr Hussein Chandu, who were with the tycoon in his last days, disregarded a directive that required them to preserve the body.
The police said the two ignored the directives and proceeded with burial plans.
But the court has exonerated the widow on these allegations, explaining that the police directive was not clear on what was to be done to the tycoon’s body after his death was reported to the police.
The court said the alleged letter from the police did not specify whether the preservation was to allow for burial arrangements or for any other procedure.
The woman has linked her legal troubles to family wealth that she alleged caused bad blood between her late husband and Mr Anwar.
She said Mr Anwar and his brother were not on good terms when he died.
She claimed the source of the misunderstanding was family business in Pakistan and in Kenya. In opposing the exhumation, she cited religion and customary beliefs, and that the cause of death is known.