Kenyan police officers found guilty of murder of three including human rights lawyer

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Kenyan police officers found guilty of murder of three including human rights lawyer

Kenyan police officers found guilty of murder of three including human rights lawyer

Three police officers in Kenya have been found guilty of murdering three men, including human rights lawyer Willie Kimani, six years after their bodies were found in a river.

Justice Jessie Lessit found police officers Fredrick Leliman, Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku as well as police informer Peter Ngugi guilty of murdering Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri on 23 June 2016.

A fourth police officer, Leonard Mwangi, was acquitted. Those found guilty will be sentenced at a later date.

The triple killing prompted exceptional outrage in Kenya, with hundreds of people protesting in the streets.

The high court judge revealed in gruesome detail how Kimani, who worked for International Justice Mission (IJM), was abducted while leaving Mavoko law courts in Nairobi and tortured and killed along with Mwenda and Muiruri. Their bodies were discovered a week later.

At the time Kimani was representing Mwenda, who had been shot and injured by police.

Outside the court, Hannah Kimani, the wife of Willie Kimani, said it had been a long and difficult six years waiting for justice. “I would like to say that us getting justice today offers a source of comfort to our hearts,” she said. “Although it may not bring Willie Kimani back, it may bring comfort to our hearts.”

Meanwhile killings by police officers have risen. According to Missing Voices, a group of organisations investigating unlawful killings in Kenya, 72 people have been killed by the police this year. Last year, 187 people were killed, up from 158 in 2020.

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