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Damning evidence released on illegal killings

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) on Tuesday released damning evidence received from a police officer who claimed he was involved in the executions of 58 Mungiki suspects.

Vice Chairperson Hassan Omar Hassan released a video containing confessions of the police constable Bernard Kirinya, who served at the Special Crime Prevention Unit (SPCU), before he was shot dead in October last year.

In the footage, the slain officer recalls how they abducted several Mungiki leaders who went missing before their bodies were found dumped in forests, dams and mortuaries.

“The testimony of the whistle blower implicates the police leadership not only with the knowledge but actually sanctioning a campaign of abductions, illegal extortions, torture and cold-blooded murder of suspected criminals, and those alleged to be Mungiki members,” Mr Hassan said.

Notable cases in the late Kirinya’s confessions include the killing of Kimani Ruo, a Mungiki leader who was abducted outside the Nairobi Law Courts in June 2007, moments after he was acquitted of charges of being an adherent of the outlawed sect.

Others are the killing of the wife and driver of the jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga and two key Mungiki leaders Ndung’u Wagacha (Acting Chairman) and Naftali Irungu (National Treasurer).

The slain officer also confessed to having participated in the killing one of Kenya’s most wanted gangsters, Simon Matheri, who was gunned down by police in February 2007.

In what has shocked the top leadership in the police force, the slain Mr Kirinya names several senior police officers of having given them instructions to abduct and kill Mungiki suspects, some of whose bodies have still not been found.

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“Having availed this information to the commission, the whistle blower informed the KNCHR that he was fearful of his security as the information was highly sensitive,” Mr Hassan said.

He was then placed on a witness protection programme both within Kenya and in a neighbouring country, according to the commission officials.

A few days after expressing fears for his life, Mr Hassan said that the commission received reports of the policeman’s shooting a few metres from his house in Hurlingham.

“Indeed, in the morning before his execution, the whistleblower was visited by a person driving a vehicle whose registration numbers were recorded by security guards,” he added.

Mr Hassan said that they later traced the registration numbers and established that the vehicle belonged to a police officer the slain cop had been working with at the Special Crimes Prevention Unit.

“Based on this, we hereby call for the resignation of the police chief Mohammed Hussein Ali to pave way for thorough investigations,” the KNCHR official said.

In a quick rejoinder, the Police Commissioner through his Spokesman Erick Kiraithe dismissed the human rights’ commission’s assertions as ‘mere propaganda’ and challenged them to substantiate their claims.

Mr Kiraithe also accused the commission of propagating a smear campaign to discredit the force at a time when a Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Professor Philip Alston is finalising his report on extra-judicial killings.

“Police Headquarters would also like to inform the public that the so called confessions have been released after our detectives started investigating information to the effect that some officers from the KNHRC have been regularly receiving payments from the outlawed Mungiki sect followers,” Mr Kiraithe said.

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“Kenyans must ask themselves what services the Mungiki is paying for,” he added.

He particularly took issue with the call for Ali’s resignation: “His call for the Commissioner of Police to resign is inconsequential and should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves.”

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