NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – Six Administration Police officers (APs) convicted of killing seven taxi operators in Kawangware two years ago have been sentenced to death.
Justice Fred Ochieng passed the judgment on Wednesday after rejecting their mitigation.
The judge said the six APs acted recklessly and irresponsibly when they killed the operators on the night of March 11, 2010 on Naivasha road in Kawangware.
After evaluating the evidence of 28 prosecution witnesses, Justice Ochieng found that the accused were at the scene of crime and fired the bullets that killed the taxi operators.
The judge rejected the defence by accused that they were justified to open fire because the taxi men were in a group of thugs who were attempting to rob Kawangware residents.
According to the judge, the story was calculated to justify reckless use of guns because the taxi men were not armed and none said they attempted to shoot or attack them.
Appreciating the role of the police in trying to maintain law and order, the judge observed they are not supposed to take lives but protect them.
For that reason, the judge said they cannot escape criminal responsibility unless their actions are justified.
“It was not shown by the accused persons that the only practicable thing was to shoot the deceased persons. The degree of force used was not justified, it was excessive and unjustified, ” he ruled.
The APs had denied seven counts of murdering Harry Thuku, Joseph Mwangi, James Mwangi, George Thairu, William Njau, Joseph Chege and Thiong’o Njoroge.
The taxi operators were shot dead by Ahmed Omar, Ahmed Shaffi, Michael Lewa, Moses Lochich, Nelson Kipchirchir, Erick Melchizedek and Alex Mutisya.
The prosecution, Justice Ochieng held, was able to prove that the accused persons fired at the direction of the deceased persons.
A total of 61 bullets, were fired by the police officers although the prosecution was not able to identify from which guns the fatal bullets were fired.
In their defence, the convicts had argued that they returned fire in self defence and urged the court to deem them as people who were in real danger.
They had also insisted that they did not shoot the deceased persons intentionally as they had no malice aforethought.