Magistrate orders murder charges for four policemen over Briton's death

Hilliary Lewis Martin at Mombasa Law Courts yesterday, during the ruling on an inquest into the death of her son Alexander Monson. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]
Four police officers suspected to have killed a British aristocrat Alexander John Monson five years ago at Diani Police Station in Kwale County will face trial for murder.

Alexander, who was heir to the Monson baronetcy, died chained to a hospital bed hours after being arrested by the police from a club in Diani on May 19, 2012.

A police investigation at that time concluded that he died of natural causes, and suggested that he could have accidentally fallen or killed himself after drug overdose.

But his family accused the Kenyan police of cover-up.

Following relentless diplomatic pressure and petitions by rights groups, including the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and Alexamber's father Lord Nicholas, the Kenyan authorities formed a judicial inquest to establish the circumstances of the death.

Yesterday, a magistrate found that the four policemen most likely killed Alexander and invented theories to cover up the murder.

"His life was cut short by unlawful actions of others while in the custody of the police," said Senior Principal magistrate Richard Odenyo at the Mombasa law courts yesterday. He said adequate evidence had been adduced to try the four policemen and others.

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Odenyo ruled that Sergeant Naftali Chege, retired Chief Inspector Charles Wangombe Munyiri, police constables John Pamba and Baraka Bulima should be charged with the murder of the Briton.

In a ruling read on his behalf by Mombasa Chief Magistrate Julius Nang’ea, Odenyo also ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate other police officers who should be charged with other offences such as negligence.

The magistrate noted that although there was claim that Alexander was a drug user, nobody had a right to take away his life.

Alexander, the son of Lord Nicholas Monson, died at Palm Beach Hospital while chained to his hospital bed after being rushed there from Diani Police Station on claims of having smoked marijuana.

The police called 39 witnesses, among them his mother Hillary Lewis Martin, who saw him die at the hospital.

“Whether the deceased was a drug user or not, whether he was a saint or a criminal, he had a right to life as enshrined vide Article 26 of the Constitution of Kenya. His life was cut short by unlawful action of others while in the custody of the police,” said Odenyo.

The magistrate said there was evidence that Alexander was seen in the office of Chief Inspector Munyiri in company of Chege.

Odenyo said during the inquest, Diani police boss, who was witness number 20, told the court he saw a short white man he believed was Alexander in the office of Chief Inspector Muchiri, who was with Chege.

The magistrate said there was evidence that when Alexander was taken to the police station after his arrest on claims he was smoking marijuana, he was a healthy man.

The magistrate accused the police of peddling lies during the hearing, saying some witnesses gave obvious contradictions and inconsistencies.

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