NAIROBI, September 23 – The Government human rights watchdog on Tuesday released a damning report containing names of 349 people it alleges have been arrested, detained, tortured and killed by the police on suspicion of being Mungiki adherents.
The report released by the commission’s vice chairman Hassan Omar Hassan states that 167 of those arrested were found dead in mortuaries while 182 are still missing since October last year.
“Additionally, there are at least 200 other persons whose identity KNCHR was unable to establish since they were merely booked in mortuaries as unknown,” he said.
Mr Hassan said the commission was in the possession of corroborative evidence including photographs showing the suspect’s last moments with the police.
Many of them, he said, were people who had been seen by their relatives as they were being arrested or had been photographed by the media as they were being led away by the police.
“The extra-judicial executions and other brutal acts of extreme cruelty have been perpetrated by the police against the so-called Mungiki adherents and that these may have been committed pursuant to official policy sanctioned by the political leadership, the police commissioner and top police commanders,” he said at the launch of the report titled ‘The Cry of Blood.’
The report details how some of the suspects were arrested, detained, and later strangled or shot allegedly by the police before their bodies were found dumped in mortuaries and forests in Nairobi, Thika, Machakos and Naivasha.
At first, the report states, the police used firearms to shoot their targets but they later realised it did not work because they were implicated in many instances, hence the use of other methods like strangulation and torture.
“The change of strategy was to make members of the public believed that rival Mungiki gangs are responsible for the killings,” Mr Hassan said.
As such, the report states, the cause of death for majority of the latest victims had been blunt trauma, strangulation, drowning or mutilation using sharp objects as illustrated by post-mortem reports.
The findings also show that some witnesses had testified having seen the police carrying machetes, iron bars, ropes and other crude weapons in their vehicles before the suspects disappeared.
Post-mortem reports attached in some of the instances quoted in the 300-page report indicate that many of them victims were tortured to death, strangled or shot with high velocity rifles – many of them in very close range.
“While the KNCHR in no way condones the atrocities attributed to the Mungiki and other illegal gangs, it condemns the use of extra-judicial killing of suspected members as a strategy to deal with the illegal group. Methods attributed to the police amount to a serious violation of human rights especially the right to life and a fair trial before a court of law,” the report adds.
Some of the cases cited in the report include the mysterious disappearance of Kimani Ruo, a Mungiki suspect who went missing shortly after being set free at the Nairobi law Courts on June 21, 2007. At the time, he had appeared in court along with Mungiki leader Maina Njenga who is serving a five-year jail term at the Naivasha maximum prison.
When asked to comment on the report, Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe dismissed it as ‘a product of manipulation and mere rumours’.
“It is baseless. We are not commenting on fabricated reports compiled by idle charlatans,” he said.