Ex-policeman gets death for Kenyan lawyer’s murder

A Kenyan court has sentenced to death a former policeman for the murder of a human rights lawyer and two others in a case which triggered national outrage.

Two other policemen and a civilian were also sentenced to between 20 and 30 years for the murder of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and a taxi driver in June 2016.

The four were found guilty of three counts, including murder, in July 2022.

Death sentences for murder in Kenya are commuted to life in prison.

However, the 2017 Supreme Court ruling gave judges discretion to decide if a death sentence can still be imposed.

An army officer behind an attempted coup in 1982 was the last person to be executed in Kenya.

The murder of Kimani highlighted the many extraju­dicial killings and disappear­ances that have been blamed on the Kenyan police.

Former police officer, Fredrick Leliman, who was sentenced to death, and the other three convicts, can appeal against their conviction and sentencing within 14 days.

In her judgement on Friday, Judge Jessie Lessit said evidence produced during the trial had shown that the mur­ders were premeditated and the victims brutally tortured and killed.

“No-one should experi­ence what these three went through, especially from the same people mandated to protect them,” said Benson Shamala, the country director of International Justice Mis­sion, where Kimani worked.

“Sadly, since the deaths of our three friends, we have continued to witness more killings by police,” he added.

Kimani’s wife, Hannah, welcomed the court ruling.

“We are happy and Kimani can finally rest in peace. Along the way, we had lost hope that we would get justice,” she said, holding back tears, reports the AFP news agency.

The bodies of Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri were found dumped in a river on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.

Kimani was defending mo­torbike taxi driver, Mwenda, who had accused policeman, Fredrick Leliman, of shooting him for no reason at a traffic stop in 2015. —BBC

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