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Seven freed over killing of 42 officers in Baragoi raid

COUNTIES
By Julius Chepkwony | Sep 23rd 2017 | 3 min read

 

Seven suspects charged with the killing of 42 police officers in Baragoi, Samburu County, when they appeared in Nakuru Law Courts. They were set free after the prosecution failed to prove the case. [Julius Chepkwony, Standard]

It was a relief for seven people charged with the brutal killing of 42 police officers and reservists in an ambush in Suguta Valley, Baragoi, Samburu County.

The suspects, a ward representative, two chiefs, two assistant chiefs and two police reservists were acquitted of the killings of the police on November 10, 2012.

In a judgment delivered in Nakuru Law Courts, Justice Maureen Odero noted that there was no direct and circumstantial evidence linking Lawrence Lorunyei, Christopher Lokarach, Losike Ewoi, Amojong Loturo, Jeremiah Ekurao, Loomwa Looyen and Ekai Loyee to the murder.

The officers were killed during an operation to recover stolen cattle by Turkana morans from Samburu.

The police and Turkana elders from Kawap Location pursued the raiders to Nachola Location in Samburu but failed to recover the animals after they came under heavy attack.

The prosecution called 13 witnesses to testify in the case.

The court found that apart from the names of police officers appearing in the charge sheet no additional evidence was tendered to prove their identities and no relative was called as a witness in the case.

“The court is told that the deceased were all police officers serving in various departments of the security forces. No record has been produced to prove the officers bearing the names and force numbers listed in the charge sheet were actually serving in any of the security forces, none of their commanding officers was called to testify as to fact of their demise,” ruled Justice Odero.

“The prosecution is basically asking this court to take their words that 12 men, 12 officers, bearing the names and force numbers corresponding to those listed in the charge sheet actually died in the Suguta Valley on November 10, 2012.”

The judge noted that in any criminal case the prosecution has a duty to prove every element of the charge beyond reasonable doubt.

She said proof of the death of the 12 was as simple as calling one member of the family to testify as to the fact of the demise of the officers and an alternative evidence from the commanding officers of the deceased.

The court further noted that there was no independent evidence by the prosecution to prove that the bodies had been properly identified by a pathologist who conducted the postmortem.

The judge said there was no evidence placing any of the accused persons at the scene of the killings as out of the 13 witnesses who testified none of them was in a position to identify any of the seven accused as among the cattle raiders who opened fire and killed the officers on that fateful day.

Most witnesses informed the court that while in the valley they saw a group of about 20 men rushing towards them but they could not recognise any of the raiders.

“I could not see the faces of the 20 men as they were far. I could not recognise the people or their voices…” read the judgement in part.

The court noted that there was no evidence to show that the seven were involved in a conspiracy to kill the officers.

Prosecutions effort to rely on circumstantial evidence suffered a blow too.

The court raised concern over the behavior of the investigating officer, who recorded two statements.

In one of the statements Charles Mwazinga a Senior Superintendent of Police informed the court that he visited the scene of massacre and recovered 17 spent cartridges and presented them to a firearm expert for analysis and investigation and it was found that some of them were fired from two rifles of the two reservists charged.

The officer under cross examination admitted he did not make a record of the recoveries. The court accused the officer of fabricating the recovery and ruled that the seven were simply scapegoats since the real culprits could not be traced.

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