A senior police officer was convicted today after he was found guilty of murder in a high-profile case of police abuse in Kenya.
Formerly the Officer in Charge of Ruaraka police station in Nairobi, Nahashon Mutua was charged with killing Martin Koome on the night of December 19, 2013.
“There is no doubt that Koome sustained serious injuries, there is no doubt that it happened at the police station,” the judge ruled.
Mutua’s conviction is the fifth case this year in which a police officer was found guilty of murder, and is the first time in Kenya's history that a police officer of his rank has been convicted of murder. International Justice Mission (IJM) represented the victim’s family in the case.
“Today, a momentous judgment has been made,” said IJM lawyer Edward Mbanya. “Today, a man’s dignity has been restored to him posthumously...Today, the justice system has shown Kenya there is accountability and that the law works for all rich and poor alike and applies to all irrespective of status, rank or belief.”
Koome was arrested and booked at the Ruaraka Police Station following a domestic squabble with his wife in 2013. That same night, Mutua brutally assaulted Koome in prison, causing injuries that led to his death. Witnesses who testified in court said they saw Mutua through a crack on the wall assaulting Koome.
Following the death, Mutua hatched a scheme to cover up the murder. In his report, Mutua implicated cellmate Kelvin Odhiambo and charged him with the murder. Documents revealed that Mutua had used his power to intimidate the other prisoners in the cell that night to falsely report that it was Odhiambo who assaulted Koome.
In May 2014, IJM filed a complaint with Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) over the false charges against Odhiambo. The agency conducted an independent investigation and concluded that Odhiambo had been framed. Odhiambo, who by then had been wrongly standing trial for a murder he did not commit, was set free. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions immediately filed murder charges against Mutua.
“The fact that police officers can investigate their own who misuse power serves to encourage and inspire both the civilian population to report such cases and the police officers themselves to strive to bring justice to the poor,” said Greg Tarrant, Country Director for IJM Kenya.
“Koome is just one of many young men killed in circumstances that show excessive use of force by police officers. We call upon the government to form a judicial commission of inquiry into cases of extrajudicial killings to ensure families of those affected get justice.”
Mutua remains in custody prior to his scheduled sentencing December 20, 2018.