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Pain of a Kenyan family whose son died in Ethiopian custody

Muriuki died while undergoing treatment at St Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – When the family of Zakayo Muriuki Gatimu heard of the successful rescue of a Kenyan woman who had been kidnapped by pirates in Somalia, their hope was rekindled.

Hope that Muriuki who was in the hands of Ethiopian authorities will secure his freedom and unite with his family.
All this time, the family had sought help from Government, which was not forthcoming.

Muriuki died while undergoing treatment at St Paul’s Hospital in Addis Ababa.

He was arrested on 10th January 2015 in Jijiga area of Ethiopia, while walking out of the compound of the client who had contracted his employer, BSS Ltd, to install a VSAT satellite.

Since his arrest and prosecution his case kept on being postponed for lack of witnesses according to family members.

“His family has continuously denied their rights by the prison authority have to visit him in custody,” reads a protest letter by the family way before their son had passed on.

One of his brothers Joseph Thuku had sought help from Capital FM News, a few weeks before his death.

“Please highlight my brothers’ story at least for the Government to act,” he requested this writer who is Human Rights reporter.

The story was however postponed after his father, who had visited his ailing son insisted that he returns to the country.

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“He wants to come back and explain the whole incident since he’s already there, ” the younger brother said.

The family is disappointed that after almost two years in custody, the Government failed to help them.

Muriuki is dead but they want justice at least for his colleague who is still in custody.

But according to the Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe, they were all along, “aware of the imprisonment of Muriuki in Ethiopia and our Embassy in Addis Ababa has been engaged with both his family and the Government of Ethiopia in a bid to resolve the case and have Mr Muriuki and his colleague return home.”

Kiraithe says already investigations are underway, in a bid to establish the circumstances of his death.

He further says the Government is trying to secure the release of yet another Kenyan Jedrick Mugo, who is held in Ethiopia.

He was a colleague of Muriuki.

“We continue to urge their employer to come forth with critical information needed by the Ethiopian Government to shed more light into the case,” he says.

“Their continued silence threatens to cripple the Embassy’s efforts to secure Mr. Mugo’s release.”

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Meanwhile, he has cautioned Kenyans living in foreign countries, especially those which are politically volatile and conflict prone to be vigilant.

He urges them to always observe the laws of those countries since,” the liberties enjoyed under the Kenyan constitution are not across board. ”

This comes even as five other Kenyans remain in custody within the troubled neighboring South Sudan.

Despite appeals by family members and right groups, the Government is yet to secure their freedom.


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