NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) now wants the British government to be cautious in handling compensation to former Mau Mau fighters.
LSK chief executive officer Apollo Mboya has written a letter to British High Commissioner Christian Turner urging care on the negotiated Sh2.6 billion settlement to 5,228 former freedom fighters by the UK to avoid possible fraud.
“Leigh Day (a British law firm) that represented the ex-Mau Mau veterans in the matter has declined to furnish LSK with the list of their clients for verification as requested,” Mboya said in his letter dates June 10.
Mboya who cited several legal reasons for the British government to exercise caution in the compensation also referred to a High Court ruling dated April 29, 2013 that current officials of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA) are in office illegally.
“Lady Justice Mumbi ordered the Registrar of Societies to conduct the MMWVA elections and file the results in court within 14 days of the polls date,” Mboya put forward his case.
The leadership and membership of the MMWVA is subject of High Court Petition No.66 of 2011. The CEO warned that the Sh340,000 compensation to each of the 5,228 ex-Mau Mau fighters may only benefit British law firms by settling their colossal legal fees.
The lawyers who represented the veterans in their suit will pocket Sh786 million as legal fees from the Sh2.6 billion that was allocated by the British government last week.
“Unless the authenticity of the list of claimants is verified and cross-checked by other lawyers involved, the negotiated settlement may lead to fraud,” he argued.
Two other British firms, Tandem AVH working with Miller and Company Advocates in Kenya with 8,061 claimants and GT law solicitors with 700 Mau Mau, furnished LSK with a list of their clients last week.
“Since Leigh Day has declined to release their list of clients, we are unable to determine accusations against them that they purport to represent victims without their instructions,” he added.
The LSK CEO said that both Leigh Day and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) purport to act for MMWVA and its membership who according to them stand at 50,000 ex-Mau Mau fighters.
Mboya who has requested for a meeting with the British High Commissioner for a way forward said that there are also complaints that some unqualified persons were purportedly representing the former freedom fighters.
He said that LSK convened a meeting with all parties representing the former war veterans for a meeting at the Panafric Hotel in Nairobi on June 1.
Mboya also said that in comparison with precedents, the settlement of Sh340,000 per claimant for torture is too negligible.
“Some members of the MMWVA have rejected the compensation having been reached without their consent and authority,” he insisted.
Last Friday, the war veterans said that the money to be paid to each of them as compensation by the British government was too little, although welcome.
The Secretary General of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association Gitu Kahengeri said although little, it was better as the settlement came sooner than a court process would have ended for the 5,228 litigants.