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Group faults probe into deaths

NEWS

Group faults probe into deaths

Story by FRED MUKINDA
Publication Date: 2/25/2008

Investigations into post-election violence deaths should be conducted in line with internationally recognised procedures, a human rights lobby said Sunday.

Whereas police had launched investigations into the more than 1,000 killings, a report by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (Imlu), faults them, saying they did not meet the legal requirements.

“Most of the investigations revealed an abdication by the police to comply with the statutory requirements as contained in sections 386 – 387 of the criminal procedure code in opening inquiry files in relation to each case,” the report says.

It accuses the police of failing to start inquests into all deaths as is required in the event a person dies of unnatural causes.

State agencies

In the report, Imlu said 43 per cent of the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds while in the rest of the cases, victims died after being stabbed, shot with arrows, hit with blunt objects or burnt.

Referring to the findings, Imlu executive director Samuel Muhochi said: “Primarily only State agencies are allowed to wield and use firearms in this country.”

However, the findings of the report are based on a sample of only 80 people who were killed and their bodies examined by pathologists.

Out of the 80 cases, only two of the victims were female. The rest were men aged under 40. Half of the postmortem examinations were carried out in various mortuaries in Rift Valley Province where most of the killings took place.

The report from the region shows that only eight victims had been shot dead while the rest died after being attacked with weapons.

Another sample of eight people in Kisumu showed they were all shot dead.

“Of the postmortems from Western Province, the cause of death attributed to gunshot injuries was 91 per cent while nine per cent related to death caused by crude weapons,” part of the report read.

The Imlu investigators also relied on witness accounts and revelations by relatives in compiling the report.

It shows family members accusing police of killing their relatives. “In 29 per cent of the cases, family members alleged police shot the victims. For the remaining victims of gun shots, the families had no information on the circumstances of death.

Only nine per cent of the sample died after being beaten up,” says the report.

Dr Joan Nyanyuki, an official with Imlu, said another report would be launched later.

The report continues: “The delay in investigations by relevant authorities has occasioned loss of crucial forensic evidence that would be useful in prosecuting the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. The wanton killings and destruction of property continues in certain areas like Kwanza, Bomet, Mt Elgon and Kuresoi.”

The report also faulted the manner in which the Government had started disposing of unclaimed bodies in mortuaries.

It says specimens which would have helped in future investigations had not been obtained before the bodies were disposed of. “Those prescribed in such disasters include fingerprinting, radiological techniques and tissue sampling and preservation for DNA analysis.”

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About SG

Secretary general of Chama Cha Mwananchi. This blog www.chamachamwananchi.wordpress.com, is based in Sweden.

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