Kenyan court confirms lawyer's death as extrajudicial murder

The Kenyan High Court has affirmed that local human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and his taxi driver were tortured and murdered at the hands of police in Nairobi.

Oleg Znamenskiy

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Luka Kimaru said that the deceased Mr Kimani should be regarded as a ‘champion of justice,’ and confirmed for the first time the true extent of police involvement in the lawyer’s death. The court found that a police brutality complaint lodged by Mr Kimani on behalf of his client, Josphat Mwenda, was the catalyst for the brutal attack on the three men. The ruling also confirmed that administration policeman had deliberately hampered investigations into the assault on Mr Mwenda and had filed trumped-up drug charges against him in an effort to discredit his complaint. Finally, Justice Kimaru concluded that police had failed to promptly follow up missing person reports filed by the victims’ families when they were forcibly disappeared, thus failing to reach the men in time to prevent their deaths. ‘Lawyers, judges and magistrates must be protected by police in the course of duty which involves protecting the rights of Kenyans provided under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution,’ he ruled.

Watershed moment

Human rights organisations have praised the ruling as a landmark in the effort to end police impunity in Kenya. ‘The court’s determination is a watershed moment in the history of justice in Kenya as it sheds the spotlight on the common but under-reported scourge of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country,’ commented Amnesty International East Africa campaigner Victor Odero.

Sources: AllAfrica; Amnesty International

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