NAKURU, Kenya, Sep 22 – Justice for the families of 12 police officers murdered in the Baragoi massacre failed Friday, after the seven suspects charged with the offence were acquitted by the High Court in Nakuru.
The 12 slain officers were among 42 officers killed in Suguta Valley five years ago.
Resident Judge Maureen Odero set the seven suspects among them four chiefs, a civic leader, a police reservist and wildlife conservancy worker free after the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.
She said there were no direct circumstances linking the seven to the massacre that took place as the Regular and Administration Police officers entered Suguta Valley, in Baragoi, Samburu North District on November 10, 2012 in pursuit of cattle rustlers.
“The prosecution has not shown to the court any direct involvement of the accused persons to the murder of the officers; they have been simply charged as scapegoats because the real culprits could not be traced,” said Justice Odero.
The accused were Nachola Ward representative Lawrence Lorunyei, area chiefs Christopher Lokarach, Sammy Amojong, Jeremiah Ekurao, Loomwa Looyen alongside police reservists Ekai Loyee and Ewoo Losike.
The court said that the prosecution witnesses including high ranking police officers who led the operation to recover the cattle failed to identify the accused persons before court.
She wondered how the suspects, most of whom were local leaders could not be identified by the witnesses.
She observed that linking of the 17 cartridges to the guns of the sixth and seventh accused was an afterthought to bridge gaps since the investigating officer who recovered them did not indicate this fact in his first statement.
“The investigating officer who took part in recovery of five bodies and 17 cartridges did not indicate that evidence in his first statement until he recorded the second statement which was clearly to bridge the gap,” said Justice Odero.
She added that bodies of the 12 victims were not properly identified noting that the prosecution would have called one member of family of the officers as witnesses to testify.
“No independent evidence to prove that bodies that had been properly identified to the pathologists by any person apart from names indicated from the charge sheet. The prosecution did not call any relatives who may have seen their bodies at the mortuary,” said Justice Odero.
During the hearing, investigating officer SSP Charles Mwaisinga could not explain why the last post-mortem date of the 25 officers who are among those quoted in the murder case was on November 16, 2012 a day before the last five bodies were collected from the scene.
He also failed to explain why there was no recovery certificate for the 17 cartridges recovered from the scene.