Former soldiers sue AG over 1982 coup

Fifty-two former Kenya Air Force officers have sued Attorney General Githu Muigai for torture meted on them following the 1982 attempted coup.

Through Agina Advocates, the former servicemen petitioned Nyeri Labour and Employment Court to find that their fundamental rights were contravened following eight-month incarceration at Kamiti and Naivasha maximum prisons.

In the petition, the ex-service men indicated that they were illegally detained at the prison facilities without valid warrant of detention from a competent State authority.

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

The former soldiers claim they were subjected to barbaric torture, cruel and degrading treatment by the army personnel including being robbed of their valuables and molesting of their wives.

WHIPPED

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

According to the affidavit of Jon Kihiko Gichia, 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 up, put down arms, helmets, 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 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 water logged solitary cells.

They indicated that they were also subjected to physical beating 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, this year but the Attorney General, who has been named as the respondent, is yet to file reply to the petition.

During hearing of the case, the ex-soldiers indicated that 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 trial at the Langata Court Martial where they were charged with committing a criminal offence.

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

They urged 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 court to order they be compensation for illegal detention and dismissal from service and ruining of their careers plus terminal benefits.

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