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Kin cry out for justice over IEBC rally deaths

By Kevine Omollo | Published Thu, April 6th 2017 at 08:24, Updated April 6th 2017 at 10:17 GMT +3
Mary Awuor with a photo of her husband, Fredrick Otieno, who was shot during protests in Kisumu. [Photo:Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Mary Awuor holds her husband’s portrait on her lap at her Shaurimoyo home in Kisumu County on a Monday morning.

It is almost one year since the father of her two children died from bullet wounds at Tivoli Centre, along Jomo Kenyatta Highway in Kisumu.

Fredrick Otieno died on May 23, after he was allegedly shot by police during protests organised by Opposition leaders against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Awuor hides her emotions behind a smile that does not reach her eyes as she insists her husband was not part of the demonstration. She says he was on his way to a site at Mamboleo where he was working as an electrician.

Last time

“Otieno left home at 9am to go to work. Since I was a bit ill, I told him to get me some drugs, but he said he would first go to the site, where he was to get money before getting back to town to buy me the medicine. He then left the house without even taking breakfast,” she said.

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This was the last time the couple saw each other.

When her husband did not come back home, she assumed he had a lot of work and was sure he would be back the next day. She, however, had a vivid dream that night where she was told that her husband was dead. Shaken, she woke up and finding that Otieno had not come back, she immediately called him on his phone but he was out of reach.

It was a few hours later that the area chief summoned her and broke the news of her husband’s death. Together with other family members, Awuor went to Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu where they positively identified Otieno’s body. A post-mortem later revealed a bullet had destroyed most of his internal organs before lodging in his chest.

He became part of the statistics of the casualties of the demonstrations.

“I had watched the TV the previous day but had not been keen on news concerning the demonstrations because my husband was not into politics. It did not even cross my mind that he could be among those killed during the demonstrations,” she said.

Next month, the family will hold the first anniversary to celebrate the life of the 42-year-old at their Uyoma Kobong village in Siaya County.

It has been a year, the contentious IEBC issues have been sorted, yet justice has not been served to the family, and there are no signs that justice will be served soon.

Awuor’s family’s bleak picture is replicated in the homes of the more than 50 victims of the demonstrations who are saddened by lack of clarity or progress in their cases.

In June last year, shortly after the deadly demonstrations came to an end, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Western Kenya Chapter, in collaboration with the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC), offered to take up the cases to ensure that the victims would get justice.

The then LSK Western Chapter Chairman Rayola Olel and Western Regional Manager Antonina Okuta called on victims of the demonstrations to come out and register with the two groups to facilitate pursuit of justice through the Judiciary.

No case

According to Kisumu Residents Voice Association Chairman Audi Ogada, who participated in tracing the affected families, at least 50 cases were forwarded to the two organisations.

“By October last year, we had furnished LSK and KNHRC with details of the victims and the documents they needed to start the cases,” Ogada said.

Ogada has, however, expressed concern that seven months down the line, no case has been filed in court.

Olel, who initiated the cases, yesterday told The Standard he did not have any updated information on the cases, but pointed out that he was no longer in the office, and had handed over the cases to his successor, Sam Onyango.

“What I know is that successions had been filed, which would pave way for the legal right to sue,” he said.

But Mr Onyango denied having any knowledge of the cases, saying Olel was yet to hand them over to him and brief him on their progress.

“The lawyers who were handling the case were appointed by Olel when he was chairman, but he is yet to hand over. We can only pick it up once we receive the documents,” Onyango said.

Okuta confirmed that paperwork for 17 cases has already been completed, and there had been discussions with the new LSK office to finalise on the logistics of filing the case.

“Two weeks ago we had discussions with the LSK office on the modalities of handling these cases. We need to determine whether to handle them as one case, or separate them on the basis of deaths and injuries,” he said.