Relatives, police give up on cold murder cases

Mr Oscar King’ara, the founder and director of Oscar Foundation, met his death outside University of Nairobi students’ quarters on March 5, 2009.

King’ara, who was with his assistant John Paul Oulu, died on the spot while Oulu died on his way to hospital.

At the time, King’ara had released an investigative report accusing police of killing or torturing more than 8,000 people in a crackdown on the outlawed Mungiki sect.

His killing was seen as the work of State security agents.

On April 29, 2008, another Mungiki leader Joseph Kang’ethe alias Diambo, named by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as having attended a meeting at State House to plan the Naivasha revenge attacks in 2007 post-election violence was lured to his death by top Government officials, close family sources had revealed.

Kang’ethe was called to a city hotel to collect Sh3 million, which was to be used for a burial before he vanished. Two other Mungiki adherents who accompanied him to the meeting were later killed and their bodies dumped in Mai Mahiu.

Not surprising though, nothing much is found in police records on the murders and many of the cases have not even reached the courts since police do not have sufficient evidence to sustain a trial, it emerged.

Some of the cases like Kingara’s contain one or two-page statements — what you would find in a police Occurrence Book — recorded mainly by relatives of the deceased and eyewitnesses.

New evidence

A police source, who is privy to the investigations confided in The Standard that no one is coming forward to offer new evidence on the cases or demanding to know their status.

“Not even the close relatives are following the cases anymore. Some have simply given up and others fear touching the cases because they may be the targets of the very forces that eliminated their kin. Yet others think the deaths were bad events that had better be forgotten,” said a highly placed police source who cannot be named. The police, he revealed, have no enthusiasm to pursue the cases either.

Political scientist Adams Oloo says most of the unresolved murders have the hallmarks of State operatives, adding that it would be difficult to crack the cases especially when an arm of the Government is entrusted with investigations.

“All over the world, political assassinations are difficult to resolve as evidenced in the assassination of US presidents Richard Nixon and Abraham Lincoln,” he says. “Locally, we have examples of such murders where the State was suspected to have been involved in one way or another like the deaths of J M Kariuki, Tom Mboya, Robert Ouko and Father John Kaiser to name a few.”

“Such murders also have been associated with collateral damage, with an attendant high human toll as witnessed in the Ouko murder saga and the Mungiki leaders’ death affair where many more lives were claimed along the way—apparently to seal evidence,” he says.

Older crimes

But after years of investigations, inquiry and billions of shillings poured in attempts to unravel the mystery behind the murders, the trail has run cold. Police now say there is little or nothing they can do.

“It is safe to say the passage of time have rendered the older crimes like the murder of Ouko and Mboya virtually impossible to follow through,” says Charles Owino, Director of Police Internal Affairs.

“More recent cases have proved equally hard to crack due to lack of new evidence and poor surveillance and forensic infrastructure,” he added.

He said the politicisation of murder has made it difficult for police to investigate, apprehend and prosecute offenders, adding the backwardness of surveillance systems and forensic laboratories and records ensures criminals walk free.

“The death of any prominent person in this country is invariably linked to politics. This makes potential witnesses to fear coming forward with information for fear of reprisals. This also effectively deflects the direction of investigations with police following political leads even if none existed,” Owino says.

“We cannot afford to have security cameras on all our streets and homes. The forensic laboratories are not well equipped to delve into old murder cases,” he says.

“In developed countries they have these gadgets on almost every street and home, which makes it easy to trail a criminal. They also have advanced forensic laboratories to help in investigations and while we only keep fingerprints of criminals developed countries have information on all their citizens’ bio data,” he says.

Owino adds the investigations have been frustrated by politicisation and sensationalisation of murders.

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