Police accused of executing suspects
Published on November 6, 2007, 12:00 am
By Cyrus Ombati
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has laid the blame on the execution of close to 500 young men between June and October on the doorstep of the police.
The State human rights’ organisation, which described the 454 killings as ‘extra-judicial’, said the deaths coincided with the period when the police intensified a crackdown on the Mungiki sect.
In a preliminary report released on Monday, the commission said some of the victims’ bodies were dumped at the City Mortuary and others in Ngong Forest.
At the mortuary, the report adds, the victims were booked as ‘young Kikuyu male adults’. It adds that the bodies had a single gunshot on the head.
Commission Chairman, Mr Maina Kiai, said investigations had reached the conclusion that the dead were victims of execution and “the police could be complicit in the killings”.
Kiai said only the police had the capacity to do so. He said the commission had counted and identified 229 bodies and received many complaints every day.
He linked the killings to the war on Mungiki, saying the number of the dead taken to the mortuary rose sharply between June and July — 223 — compared to 189 between January and May before crackdown on the sect members heightened.
“They coincide with the period after June when the Government declared war on Mungiki and wanted criminals,” the report says.
But the number of bodies taken to the mortuary dropped in August. Earlier this year, a war erupted between the Mungiki and matatu crews over protection money.
When Mungiki demanded more money than was previously the case, matatu men in Kiambu and Thika refused to play ball. What followed were killings and beheadings in Nairobi, Central and parts of the Rift Valley provinces.
Police: report false
But Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali has denied a police link, especially in the killings in Kiserian, Kajiado, and termed them cases of murder, accidents and sudden death.
And last evening, police spokesman, Mr Eric Kiraithe, termed the report false, saying the authors depended on ‘rumours’ to compile it.
He asked Kiai to give the police postmortem examination reports that showed the victims were shot at close range and from behind.
“Who was there to say the victims were shot from behind and the bullets exited in front? These are reports aimed at maligning the force and individuals,” he said.
He said police investigations had established that speeding motorists hit some of the victims and many of the killings were the work of criminal gangs.
He denied the commission’s claims that the war on Mungiki targeted one community. Kiraithe added that inquiries into some of killings had been opened.
He added that police had visited some sites where the bodies were found, but did not find evidence to show that the law enforcement agencies dumped them.
Of the bodies found dumped in Ngong Forest, the KNCHR report says the commission had talked to witnesses who claimed they saw police vehicles at some of the sites where bodies were later found.
The report said police collected 11 bodies in Yatta, Machakos, between August and September. Family members, the report says, had told the commission that some of their kin had been arrested by police, but were later found dead in Yatta.
Kiai said executions are crimes against humanity and called for investigations by international experts.
“We want prompt, impartial and effective investigation by police experts from South Africa, Ghana and Rwanda since Kenyans are incapable or unwilling to investigate the matter,” said Kiai.
The commission also demanded that those involved be identified and brought to justice. Kiai, however, added that the burden of proof lay with the police.
Kiai was at pains to explain that KNCHR did not condone violent crimes by Mungiki gangs, but added that the executions were an unacceptable way of fighting crime.
He said police were unco-operative in providing information during the commission’s work.
The commission chairman said the report was preliminary and that a full one will be released later.
He added that the commission supported President Kibaki’s call on the police to stop harassing innocent people