KU Professors awarded 46m for Moi’s sins

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The High Court has accorded three former Kenyatta University lecturers Sh46 million as damages for torture they underwent after the 1982 attempted coup. The court ruled that the manner in which they were arrested, beaten, harassed and tortured was a clear violation of the letter and spirit of chapter five of the previous constitution.

The court held that the three, Edward Akong’o Oyugi (76), Mr Kamoji Wachira (75) and Mr Joseph Otieno Malo (78) were subjected to dehumanizing treatment, held in degrading and inhumane conditions both at the police station and in detention as well as being denied food and medical care.

In the decision, Justice John Mativo awarded Mr Oyugi and Wachira Sh20 million each for being held in detention under harsh conditions for two years while Mr Otieno was awarded Sh6 million because he was released after three days.

Justice John Mativo said the effect of the torture left Mr Malo a shadow of his former self and he was not able to secure any job in the country. He said it was not possible to quantify physical and psychological torture on a body and a soul that has been battered and shattered.

“Nevertheless, doing the best I can and considering both the physical and mental suffering, the destroyed career, the emotional suffering caused by separation from family members and the life threatening health complication both mental and physical attributed to brutality, I will award them damages,” the judge ruled.

He said that each of the petitioners narrated the torture and inhuman treatment subjected to them by the police.

Back in 1982, Mr Oyugi was accused of failing to disclose why he and others wanted to overthrow the government of President Daniel arap Moi, while Mr Wachira was accused of using students and plotting to overthrow the government. The two were detained incommunicado at several prisons, including Kamiti, Shimo La Tewa and Hola prisons.

“The acts complained of range from illegal search, arrest without a warrant or without being charged beyond the constitutional permitted period,” the judge said.

Each of the petitioners gave the narrative of being brutally beaten, at times, until they lost consciousness, being held in the dark water-logged cells without food and water or toilet facilities, and even being forced to sleep on water-logged cells and being forced to stand for long hours.

They were denied access to family members or lawyers and were held in solitary confinement. For Mr Otieno Malo, his was a case of mistaken identity since the police were looking for a Mr Alfred Otieno. But they still tortured him for three days.

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