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Kwekwe case: Police officers get seven years in jail for innocent girl's killing

By Willis Oketch | February 16th 2016

Two police officers were yesterday sentenced to seven years in jail each for killing a teenager in Kwale two years ago.

Justice Martin Muya sentenced Kinango DCIO Veronica Gitahi and Constable Issa Mzee and said this was a message against police impunity and misuse of guns against innocent civilians.

After the sentence was read Umazi Zani, whose only child Kwekwe Mwandaza was felled by the officers' bullets on August 22, 2014, wept and collapsed.

Independent Policing Oversight Authority hailed the sentence as a victory and significant step against police impunity and extrajudicial killings.

The convicts' lawyer Jared Magolo said he would appeal the sentence.

Gitahi and Mzee could land in more trouble as the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) indicated the State would appeal the seven-year sentence which it considers too lenient.

The State opposed an application by the convicts' lawyer for suspension of the sentence pending appeal arguing there were no exceptional circumstances to warrant that.

Last week, Justice Muya pronounced the two officers guilty of manslaughter for Kwekwe's death although the State had charged them with murder.

Yesterday, he said although the victim's family is entitled to compensation, he could not order the convicts to pay Kwekwe's family.

The judge also said although the Victim Compensation Act was passed in 2014, the Victims Compensation Fund from which they could be paid had not been formed.

"I find these are people of straw," the judge said referring to the convicts and added that ordering them to pay Kwekwe's mother or family would cause the convicts and their families immense suffering.

"Justice must be tempered with mercy," he said.

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