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Puzzle of inmate who 'drowned' in dry police cell

The inmate died at the Pangani Police Station cells on Sunday, July 11, 2021. [File, Standard]

The family of a man who died in a cell at Pangani Police Station last Sunday, July 11, after failing to raise Sh200, will have to wait longer to establish the cause of his death.

On Thursday, July 16, family members, who had gone to witness the postmortem of Robert Mureithi, a charcoal dealer, were told that nothing much was achieved from the exercise conducted by Dr Peter Ndegwa at City Mortuary.

The pathologist explained: “Although his body showed signs of being submerged in water, his lungs were dry and drowning as a cause of death was ruled out.”

Ndegwa continued: “Yes, he had a head injury on the right side of the head, but it also was not the cause of death as there wasn’t any internal bleeding observed.”

He said the real cause of Mureithi’s death was yet to be established and that experts would extract some samples for further analysis.

Mureithi, 30, was said to have collapsed at Pangani police cells on Sunday morning but police dismissed earlier claims that there was scuffle among inmates.

Starehe police boss Julius Kiragu said the deceased collapsed in the cell around 7am and doctors who were alerted could not save his life.

Mureithi had appeared before Makadara court for breaking curfew rules on Friday, July 9, but could not be released after failing to raise a Sh200 fine and was consequently locked up at the station for the weekend.

His father, Joseph Muriuki Kanye, arrived on Monday, July 12 as he had already heard about his son's death.

“I last saw my son a month ago, and he was okay. He couldn't have collapsed out of the blues as the police claim. I want justice for him. There's no one to take care of his three children and his wife, who is working in Qatar,” he said.

Human rights activists Zaina Kombo and Ruth Kinuthia from Haki Africa, who accompanied the family during the exercise, wondered how the deceased was soaked in water yet he was in custody, adding that his hands and feet were pale.

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