Bungoma court awards torture victims Sh28 million

Victims of torture linked to the February Eighteen Revolutionary Army (Fera) have been awarded Sh28.5 million by a Bungoma court.

The 17 survivors had filed a case claiming they were wrongfully arrested and incarcerated on suspicion of being members of the Fera movement in the 1990s, which was formed by the late Brigadier John Odongo and Luhya Council of Elders Chairman Patrick Wangamati.

Judge Stephen Riech while delivering his verdict said the victims had proved beyond reasonable doubt that their rights were violated by security agencies during the era of former President Daniel Moi.

One of the petitioners, Job Wanyanja, narrated to the court how his rights were grossly violated by the officers of the dreaded Special Branch and Prison warders.

Mr Wanyanja said he was arrested at his home in Bungoma town on February 25, 1995 and taken to Bungoma Police Station before he and other suspects were transferred to Kakamega.

“We were blindfolded, bundled into a waiting police car and driven to Kakamega Police Station where they kept us in underground police cells for three days without food or any contact with our families.” said Wanyanja.

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He claimed that he was placed in a solitary cell where he was tortured with the view of having him confess he belonged to the outfit. He further claimed that he was later taken to Naivasha Prison where he was further tortured while still in detention.

“He underwent intensive torture for 40 days by being put in a cell full of mosquitoes, immersed in cold water and forced to stand for days, subjected to electric shocks and loud fan sound, mock shooting, making him watch others being tortured,” his lawyer Gitau Mwara said.

The Attorney General had earlier objected to the petition, arguing that it was time barred. The AG further argued that he could not get witnesses as most of them had passed on and wanted the court to throw out the application.

Justice Riech, however, ruled in the victims’ favour, saying they failed to file the petition in time because the Government blocked them.

He said the court had assessed the nature of the torture and awarded the survivors between Sh1.5 million and Sh2.5 million each.

Although the victims applauded the judgement, they said the amount awarded was too low compared to international standards.

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