Officer Rashid Hassan accused of shooting suspects wants charges dropped

Eastleigh residents rally outside Milimani Law Courts in support of police officer Rashid Ahmed. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

A police officer accused of extra-judicial killings has launched a fight for his life through a petition at the High Court to stop his prosecution.

Rashid Ahmed Hassan claims that the decision by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) to have him charged with the murder of Jamal Mohammed and Mohammed Kheri is unlawful and discriminatory since he has not been accorded a fair chance to defend himself.

“I am not a criminal or a murderer as portrayed by Ipoa. I am a law-abiding police officer and have never misused my firearm as claimed. The two deceased were criminals who were committing a robbery. Their murder does not amount to extra-judicial killing,” said Hassan.

Through his lawyer Danstan Omari, the officer wants Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to review his decision to approve the murder charges proposed by Ipoa.

The police oversight agency had obtained summons for Hassan to appear in court on December 8 to plead to charges of murder, where it is alleged that he killed Mohamed and Kheri on March 31, 2017, at Amal Plaza in Eastleigh, Nairobi County.

But Mr Omari argued that the decision to charge Hassan was not well founded "since it is meant to punish him for doing his duties".

“The officer has never been processed or summoned by Ipoa to record his statement yet they are proceeding to charge him with murder. It is also discriminatory to single him out since the operation leading to the death of the two robbers was done by a team of police officers,” said Omari.

He argued that the officer was out to save lives and property when the two robbers refused to surrender.

“It is now more than six years since the incident happened, which makes the officer wonder about the turn of events. Ipoa is not acting in good faith and have a bad motive to charge him with murder,” said Omari.

Hassan, in his affidavit, denied claims of extra-judicial killings. He said that from the time he was posted to Pangani Police Station in 2015 as an undercover police officer, he had managed to contain several organised criminal gangs who terrorised area residents.

On the incident leading to the killing of the two suspects, Hassan said he was in Eastleigh on that day when he received information about an ongoing robbery at Amal Plaza.

He summoned his team of officers and when they reached the building, they were confronted by seven heavily armed robbers who started firing at them. He killed the two, he said, in a bid to save lives.

“Even Inspector General Japheth Koome, who at the time was the provincial police officer and our boss, confirmed that the two robbers who had been killed were part of a gang who were terrorising residents and traders,” said Hassan.

His petition was supported by several members of the Eastleigh Business Community who swore affidavits accusing Ipoa and civil society groups of exerting pressure on the DPP to prosecute Hassan.

But Ipoa and Amnesty International through country director Houghton Irungu dismissed the claims that they did not give Hassan enough time to defend himself.

“Hassan was summoned by Ipoa 11 times but he did not show up. Even as he claims he has a right to be heard, the victims of his actions also have a right to justice,” said Irungu.