A senior police officer was today convicted after he was found guilty of murder in a high-profile case.
Former Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua was charged with killing Martin Koome Manyara on the night of December 19, 2013, at Ruaraka Police Station within Nairobi County.
Justice Stella Mutuku found the OCS guilty following a strong case put forward by the prosecution at the Milimani law courts. 18 prosecution witnesses testified in the case.
Justice Mutuku said the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that it was him (Mutua) who assaulted Martin Koome on the night of December 19, 2013.
“There is no doubt that Koome sustained serious injuries, there is no doubt that it happened at the police station,” the judge ruled.
The judge ordered that Mutua be remanded until December 20 when lawyers will submit a victim impact statement.
International Justice Mission (IJM) represented the victim’s family in the case. IJM Kenya Field Office Director Greg Tarrant said the judgment is a big step in holding errant police officers to account.
Mutua’s conviction is the fifth case this year in which a police officer was being found guilty of murder. The first case was in April when a court jailed police officer Titus Ngamau alias Katitu for 15 years for killing a suspect.
In the same month, five police officers were jailed by an Embu court after assaulting a reveler who later died. The third case was in November where two police officers based at Kabete police station were found guilty of killing an AP officer and his two family members.
“Today, a momentous judgment has been made. A public servant, an Officer Commanding a Station who misused the power given to him to serve and protect and used it to maim, torture and kill an innocent, poor and defenseless citizen has been convicted for that murder” said
victim lawyer Edward Mbanya.
“Today, a man’s dignity has been restored to him posthumously. Today, several people and families terrorised by the accused police officer have seen the beginning of justice. Today, the justice system has shown Kenya there is accountability and that the law works for all rich and
poor alike and applies to all irrespective of status, rank or belief,” said Mbanya.
Martin Koome was arrested and booked at the Ruaraka Police Station following a domestic squabble with his wife in 2013. At about midnight on December 19, 2013, Nahashon Mutua, who was Ruaraka Police Station Officer Commanding Station (OCS), assaulted Martin who sustained
injuries that led to his death.
Witnesses who testified in court said they saw Mutua through a crack on the wall assaulting Koome. Following the death, Mutua hatched a scheme to cover up the murder.
A perusal of documents by IJM revealed that Mutua had used his power to intimidate Koome’s cellmates to falsely report that Koome was assaulted by a fellow cellmate. In the report, Mutua implicated cellmate Kelvin Odhiambo and charged him with Martin’s murder.
In May 2014, IJM filed a complaint with Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) over the false charges against Kelvin. The agency conducted an independent investigation and concluded that indeed the OCS had framed Kelvin.
Kelvin, who by then had been wrongly standing trial for a murder he did not commit, was set free after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) entered a nolle prosequi “will no longer prosecute.” The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions immediately followed this by filing
murder charges against the OCS.
The accused was placed on his defence on December 7, 2017, after the court found that he had a case to answer. During the hearing 18 prosecution witnesses, some of whom were Koome’s cellmates, testified against Mutua.
The OCS called 10 defence witnesses, among them his colleagues who were on duty the same night. IJM commends the work of IPOA, DPP, Witness Protection Authority and DCI during the five years it has taken to complete the trial.
“This case has shown that it is possible to get justice in our courts with good investigations and community support. This shows the inter-agency collaboration between DCI, IPOA, IAU, ODPP and Witness Protection Unit is paying off,” said Tarrant.
IJM would like to recognise the role played by DCI in investigating this case. It is the investigation by the DCI on assault allegations by Victor Kioko who was in the same cell with Koome that vindicated Kelvin on the murder charges.
“The fact that police officers can investigate their own who misuse power serves to encourage and inspire both the civilian population to report such cases and the police officers themselves to strive to bring justice to the poor,” said Tarrant.
“Koome is just one of many young men killed in circumstances that show excessive use of force by police officers. We call upon the government to form a judicial commission of inquiry into cases of extrajudicial killings to ensure families of those affected get justice.”