Police cited yet again over use of force

July 23, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, July 23 – Police on Tuesday found themselves on the defensive yet again, when hospital officials tabled evidence showing their high-handedness in quelling the post election violence.

The Director of the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) Dr Jothan Michemi told the Justice Philip Waki Commission that they treated nearly 500 victims of the violence, many of whom were slashed, burnt or shot.

Those with gun shot injuries, Dr Michemi said, said that police had shot them.

He was testifying at the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the causes of the post election violence, its perpetrators and how security agencies acted to suppress it.

In his evidence-in-chief, Dr Michemi displayed a report the hospital had compiled soon after the post election violence profiling every patient who was treated there.

"My Lords, we were overwhelmed during the period under review because we received many victims, many of whom required emergency treatment," he said.

Michemi said the hospital treated and immediately discharged most of the 482 patients.

Some of them were referral cases from Kisii, Eldoret, Nakuru, Narok and Kericho.

Of these patients, he said, 61 were brought in with gun shot wounds.

During cross-examination by human rights lawyer Harun Ndubi, Dr Michemi said all the victims who had gun shot wounds had implicated the police.

Ndubi: Would you say that they disclosed, or rather, informed the hospital of whom they believed had shot them?

Dr Michemi: Let me say that majority of patients who came with gun shot wounds said they were shot by the police. I don’t remember any patient saying thugs had shot them.

Ndubi: In any event about all the 61 said they were shot by the police?

Dr Michemi: Yes.

When Police Commissioner Major General Mohammed Hussein Ali testified at the Commission two weeks ago, he defended his officers against the alleged use of excessive force and said police had, in many occasions, restrained themselves from using live bullets.

Dr Michemi said 239 others had sustained multiple cuts-either inflicted by machetes or other sharp objects.

They also treated five victims who had been speared while two were cases of forced circumcision.

During Dr Michemi’s testimony, it emerged that many of the victims were attacked in the city slums, with Kibera leading the lot.

Kibera slum was the hotbed of the post election violence following repeated mass protests.

Contingents of anti-riot police officers were stationed there, mainly to prevent them from demonstrating to Uhuru Park where the Orange Democratic Movement intended to hold rallies at the time.

Other slums affected included Mathare and Baba Dogo.

Dr Michemi told the Commission that KNH had spent Sh8 million to treat victims of the post election violence.


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