Court Fines Police Ksh 9.8 Million Over Illegal Arrests

  • Police order Mombasa residents on ground on March 27, 2020 just hours before the start of nationwide curfew to curb spread of coronavirus.
    Police order Mombasa residents on the ground on March 27, 2020, just hours before the start of the nationwide curfew
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  • Seven Police officers have been fined Ksh 9.8 million by the High Court as damages to 20 victims.

    Daily Nation on Tuesday, March 31 reported that the officers were found guilty of illicit arrests, harassment and illegal detention of 20 people, one of them a lawyer Steven Nzaku, at Ongata Rongai Police Station on June 4, 2016.

    The police had arrested 19 of them outside a supermarket in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado county.

    An armed Kenya police officer steps out of a police car.
    An armed Kenya police officer steps out of a police car.
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    After being arrested, two of them, Mohammed Feisal and John Mugwe Ngure called lawyer, Nzaku to come to their rescue. Trying to explain to the police as to why he was there, the lawyer was threatened and chased away by one corporal Eliud Njagi.

    Police detained the rest of the people in patrol vehicles until midnight when they took them to the station, booked them and locked them up without clarification of why they had done so.

    The publication reported that Nzaku followed the police vehicle to the station where he engaged them on reasons for his clients' arrest. That was when he was also arrested and charged with creating a disturbance at a police station.

    The others were charged with being idle and disorderly.

    At around 10:35 a.m on June 6, 2016, they were released for free, while Nzaku on a cash bail of Ksh 5,000. The 19 had been in jail for 15 hours and Nzaku for 12.

    They jointly then filed a case against the police officers, accusing them of infringing their rights by denying them the right to legal representation, and their lawyer detained.

    Justice Reuben Nyakundi had ruled in favour of the petitioners and directed the officers pay Nzaku Ksh3 million and Ksh 3.8 million to the other 19 for general and aggravated damages. He also ordered that the police pay Ksh3 million as the cost of the case.

    “The unlawful arrest and detention in a police vehicle with no capacity to handle nineteen passengers was an act of human indignity,” Justice Nyakundi ruled, noting that the experience accorded to the petitioners was traumatising and that the police lacked basis.

    “Given the circumstances of the Kenyan society where the poor, vulnerable, weak and illiterate find themselves in breach of the law, legal assistance at both pretrial or during the trial must be provided to ensure that there is no failure of justice in the process,” he added.

    The police officers, Chief Inspector Henry Kandie of Ongata Rongai police station, his deputy David Ndiema, Corporal Eliud Njagi together with constables Zedekiah Nyangoye, Teresiah Wanjue, Simon Namshuruhi and Diana Kirui have since moved to the court of appeal to challenge the ruling by the High court.

    Kenya Police officers pictured at a crime scene.
    Kenya Police officers pictured at a crime scene.
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