Govt on the spot over Mungiki killings

February 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – Kenyans are watching to see what action the government will take on shocking revelations that its security agents are involved in the execution of up to 500 Mungiki suspects.

The international community will also be interested to see if President Mwai Kibaki and his Coalition partner Prime Minister Raila Odinga will implement recommendations of the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Professor Philip Alston who was due to release his report on Wednesday.

A stunning video footage released by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) on Tuesday not only implicates the police in the murders but also signals what officials there termed as ‘state-sanctioned killings’.

Capital News was reliably informed that the video footage is part of the evidence the KNCHR presented to Prof Alston and will no doubt form basis of his investigations and subsequent recommendations.

And as questions abound on whether or not the video footage was genuine, the fact remains that the police force has been tainted and may take ages trying to redeem its image.

The footage is recorded from a former police officer Constable Bernard Kirinya who claims he participated in the killing of at least 58 Mungiki suspects, mainly those perceived to be leaders of the outlawed grouping.

Mr Kirinya was the officer murdered by unknown assailants after he expressed fears for his life.

According to Police Spokesman Mr Erick Kiraithe the officer deserted duty when he received a letter transferring him from the Special Crimes Prevention Unit headquarters in Nairobi to Lokori police station on October 3 2008.

“The testimony of the whistle blower implicates the police leadership not only with 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,” the commission’s vice chairperson Mr Hassan Omar Hassan said.

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

Others are the killings 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 having participated in the killing of a one time Kenya’s most wanted gangster Simon Matheri who was gunned down by police in February 2007.

In his 16-page documented confession which was re-played to journalists and family members on Tuesday, the slain officer tells of how they trailed, arrested, detained and killed many suspects by shooting or bludgeoning them to death in thick forests in the outskirts of Nairobi.

Police headquarters read a sinister motive in the timing of the video release and announced it was investigating some of the KNCHR commissioner’s alleged involvement in receiving bribes from Mungiki leaders.

“Police headquarters would also like to inform the public that the so-called confessions have been released after our detectives started investigations to the effect that some officers from the commission have been regularly receiving payments from the outlawed sect,” Mr Kiraithe said.

Families of about 200 victims who turned up at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) on Sunday told the UN panel probing the killings that they last saw their kin at police stations or in police vans.

“I last saw my brother in an interrogation room at Karuri police station where he was being interviewed by the police. They told me he will appear in court the following morning but that never happened,” a widow Grace Wairimu 42, whose husband was arrested in October 2008, said.

She had to turn up to provide evidence to the team led by Special UN Rapporteur for human rights Prof Alston who was invited by the government to probe the atrocities.

Mr Njuguna Gitau, the spokesman of the Kenya National Youth Alliance (KENYA), a political wing of the sect led the families.

“The list of missing persons could be higher, but we have strong evidence on 1000 cases. These are people who were arrested or were seen with the police shortly before they went missing,” he told Capital News.

Mr Gitau said he had presented Prof Alston with a detailed report of the disappearances and killings on their members which they believe were committed by the police.

“Bullet-riddled bodies of many of them were retrieved in forests or mortuaries. Who else could have killed them? We believe it is the police because most of them were last seen with them,” Mr Gitau said.

Prof Alston is in the country documenting evidence on alleged extra-judicial killings and would present a report which will be the basis of investigations on the part of the police who are accused of having arbitrarily killed hundreds of people during the post election violence of 2007.

“I am seeking assurance from the government because I want it to take serious recommendations in my report,” he said.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga who met the UN official on Monday said the report would be implemented.

“We are totally against extra-judicial killings. This country is governed by law and therefore, we look forward to getting this report. Action will have to be taken,” he said.


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