NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 – Nine prison officers who were charged with murdering six death row convicts at Nyeri’s King’ong’o Maximum Security Prison eight years ago have been sentenced to death.
Jacob Muthee, Joseph Rukwaro, Caesar Mwangi Njoka, Samuel Kamau, James Karanja, John Kariuki, James Kipkemboi, Joshua Onyango and Noor Mohammed were found guilty and convicted by High Court Judge Nicholas Ombija.
In a voluminous ruling read the better part of Thursday afternoon, Justice Ombija ruled that "there was a massive cover-up of the incident because it wasn’t possible that the prisoners died after falling from a 40ft wall as claimed by the defense."
The judge said he believed the evidence which was adduced by doctors in the case postulating that the inmates died from ‘extensive injuries inflicted by a blunt object’.
The nine officers were accused of having had a common motive of exterminating the prisoners on September 4, 2000.
Court assessors returned a verdict of ‘not guilty’ in January, citing insufficient evidence.
They further cited consideration of ‘circumstantial evidence’ adduced by the prosecution as inconclusive.
Justice Ombija however disagreed with the assessors and accused the convicted prison warders of deliberately withholding evidence that would have helped in arriving at the truth about the case.
He said that the whole saga was "a ploy orchestrated from within the prison and had turned sour."
However, defence lawyer Joseph Njenga insisted before court that post a mortem report presented to the court hand indicated that the deceased convicts had died from injuries after falling from a 40 ft perimeter fence during escape.