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Former soldiers sue AG over 1982 coup

Monday June 5 2017

Security officers seen in a picture taken after

Security officers seen in a picture taken after the 1982 attempted coup. Former Kenya Air Force officers have sued the Attorney-General over their treatment after the coup. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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Fifty-two former Kenya Air Force officers have sued Attorney-General Githu Muigai for torture they allegedly suffered following the 1982 attempted coup.

Through Agina Advocates, the former servicemen petitioned the Nyeri Employment and Labour Relations Court to find that their fundamental rights were violated following eight months of incarceration at Kamiti and Naivasha maximum security prisons.

In the petition, the former servicemen indicated that they were illegally detained at the prisons without a valid warrant of detention from a competent State authority.

They claim that in the course of August 1982, they were captured by Kenya Army personnel at Eastleigh Air Base on suspicion of participating in the attempted coup.

They say they were subjected to barbaric torture and cruel and degrading treatment by the army personnel including being robbed of their valuables and the molesting of their wives.

WHIPPED

In the 25-grounds petition, they claimed they were stripped naked in public, forced to crawl on a concrete surface, whipped, kicked with gun butts and bludgeoned all over their bodies.

According to Jon Kihiko Gichia's affodavit, the soldiers were arrested on August 1, 1982 at 2pm at the Eastleigh Air Base.

Mr Gichia said they were ordered to raise their hands, put down their firearms, helmets and belts and board a waiting lorry after been stripped naked.

He was jailed for 12 years, but the sentence was reduced to four years in 1992 and he was set free.

He said the Kenya Army personnel also raided his house and mistreated his wife, who had to be housed by relatives.

“We were illegally detained and moved in lorries whilst stark naked in full view of the public. That was in utter violation of fundamental rights and freedoms, protection of the law and freedom from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment under Section 70 (a) and 74 (1) of the Constitution,” reads the petition.

DETAINED

After the arrest, the soldiers said, they were detained at various military installations, police stations and prisons where they were locked up stark naked in dark waterlogged solitary cells.

They indicated that they were also subjected to beatings after interrogation.

The soldiers state in their suit papers that they suffered loss and psychological and economic damages, saying their rights as employees of Kenya Air Force were brazenly contravened.

“There was denial of food and drinking water, no bedding, no toilet facility. We were transferred to various stations across the country and not accorded legal representation of choice,” indicated the documents filed in the court.

The hearing of the suit is scheduled to start on June 23, but the Attorney-General, who has been named as the respondent, is yet to file a response to the petition.

The ex-soldiers indicated that during the hearing of the case, they will rely on international law instruments to which Kenya has acceded.

COURT MARTIAL

“The Attorney-General had no lawful or statutory powers to torture us for over eight months. Hose pipes were used to spray us with cold water very early in the morning.

"The Attorney also had no powers to sequestrate our personal belongings including musical systems, certificates and clothes,” the petition reads.

They protest that they were denied fair trials at the Langata Court Martial, where they were charged with committing a criminal offence.

The soldiers were held incommunicado without access to relatives, friends or advocates, saying the treatment was in violation of Section 48 of Prisons Act.

They urged the court to declare that their fundamental rights were grossly contravened and that they are entitled to payment of damages and compensation for violation of their freedom and rights.

The soldiers want the court to order that they be compensated for illegal detention and dismissal from the service and the ruining of their careers, and that they be given their terminal benefits.