NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – Police Commissioner Major General Hussein Ali said on Friday that detectives were exploring various possible motives in the killing of two Oscar Foundation officials including that they may have been shot by Mungiki sect members.,
Though he denied police involvement in the murders as suggested in a local daily, Mr Ali said it was among the angles to be explored.
“We will of course be looking at various options to determine who may have wanted to have him killed. It is a very serious murder case,” he said.
The police chief told reporters that detectives were also investigating if the two officials were executed by people they knew “or if it was just a set up”.
“Was he indeed murdered by people he knew, whether it is criminal gangs that did it to deflect blame to the police or government, are all lines of investigation that we are looking at,” he said.
Oscar Foundation’s Executive Director Kamau King’ara and his Project Officer Paul Oulu were gunned down on Mamlaka road as they drove towards the Nairobi city centre on Thursday night.
The killings sparked protests from University of Nairobi students who demonstrated for the better part of the night, and even blocked police from retrieving the bodies.
Officers retaliated by hurling tear gas canisters and shot indiscriminately at the students, killing one of them.
Police Spokesman Mr Erick Kiraithe admitted responsibility for the student’s killing by police and described the incident as ‘unfortunate’.
He said three police officers, who had opened fire during the confrontation, were in custody and would face relevant charges.
“The circumstances are that after the criminal shooting of two Oscar Foundation Officials, some students removed the body of one victim and the car from the scene and took it to the university halls of residence,” he said.
“There ensued a confrontation between the students who were obstructing police officers, but initial investigations indicate that the use of lethal force during this confrontation was unprofessional and uncalled for. We regret the killing,” he said.
The chairman of the student’s union at the university, Dan Mwangi, said the student who was killed had been pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree and was in his third year.
“Tension is high here at the university. We are not happy with the killing of the officials of Oscar foundation and the subsequent shooting of our fellow student,” he told Capital News.
United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Prof Philip Alston called for an independent investigation into the killing of the two human rights activists.
In a statement, Prof Alston said he had met the two human rights activists during his tour of Kenya and received evidence from them on extra-judicial killings in the country.
“The shocking assassination in Nairobi of two prominent Kenyan human rights defenders must be independently investigated,” he suggested.
“It is extremely troubling when those working to defend human rights in Kenya can be assassinated in broad daylight in the middle of Nairobi,” said prof Alston.
He expressed that the killing constituted a major threat to the rule of law, “regardless of who might be responsible for the killings”.
Alston noted that “there is an especially strong onus on the Kenyan Government to arrange for an independent investigation into these killings given the circumstances surrounding them.”
“Those circumstances include a statement attributed to Government spokesman, Mr Alfred Mutua, publicly denouncing the Oscar Foundation for its links to the illegal Mungiki sect, and another statement attributed to the Police Spokesman, that a major security operation was ‘definitely going to get’ those responsible for recent demonstrations attributable to the Mungiki,” he said.
The police chief in a quick rejoinder dismissed Prof Alston’s calls to have independent investigations into the killings of the Oscar Foundation officials.
He said Kenyan police were competent enough and did not require external assistance.
“We have investigated many murder cases previously and we will investigate this one with the seriousness it deserves, like any other case. And it does not therefore require that kind of treatment,” he said.
Mr Ali added: “It shows the kind of activistic (sic) mentality that he brings to the table. I am not sure he will have said that in his own country.”