, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 21 – A police officer who had been accused of extra-judicial killing during the 2008 post-election violence has been freed.
Edward Kirui who was based in Kisumu during the 2007 election was acquitted by a Nairobi Court for lack of evidence linking him to the shooting of two protesters.
High Court judge Fred Ochieng ruled that the bullets found in the victims’ bodies did not match the gun used by the officer.
“If there was a change of gun, when and who did it and for what reasons? Why are there two different serial numbers of a gun that was allegedly used by the accused?\’\’ posed Justice Ochieng.
“I find that the prosecution has failed to prove that the fatal bullet that killed the deceased was fired from the accused firearm,\’\’ he ruled. “I have no alternative but to give the accused the benefit of doubt because it is possible that he may not have been the one that shot and killed the two protestors. I therefore acquit him,\’\’ Justice Ochieng said.
More than 1,300 Kenyans were killed during the skirmishes and over 500,000 were uprooted from their homes.
Mr Kirui had been put on his defence in February this year after it was found that he had a case to answer. He was charged with the murder of Ismail Chacha and William Onyango in Kondele market on January 16, 2008.
In February, Mr Kirui defended himself against the accusations, saying the officer captured on video shooting the protesters was not him.
But in his ruling on Monday, Justice Ochieng noted that the officer who shot the protestors was not justified because he was not in any danger as they were not armed.
“The officer who did that demonstrated his callous nature by shooting the deceased who were still lying down after they were shot and does not deserve being in the disciplined force,\’\’ added the judge.
The prosecution called 22 witnesses to give evidence against Mr Kirui while two defense witnesses, including Mr Kirui, testified.
In reaching his verdict, Justice Ochieng said he had taken into account that he did not have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of 19 witnesses who gave evidence before Justice Onesmus Mutungi who had retired.
Mr Kirui in his defence had denied committing the offense saying he was not at Kondele market on the fateful day and that he did not fire a single bullet from his firearm.
Mr Kirui maintained that he was implicated by some of his colleagues who were named as suspects.
He had told the court that before he was arrested, he returned his firearm intact with 36 rounds of ammunition contrary to evidence by the prosecution that his gun was used to shoot the victims.