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Woman sues State over husband death in police custody

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Peninah Kaumbuthu, whose husband (Martin Koome) was tortured to death by Former Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua in 2013. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

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Summary

  • In a petition filed before the High Court, Ms Peninah Nkuene Kaumbuthu is seeking general and exemplary damages from the government.
  • Mr Koome’s killer, former Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua was sentenced to death by High Court judge Stella Mutuku two years ago, for the killing.
  • Ms Kaumbuthu reveals that she received threats against her life when the trial started, which forced her to quit her job and relocate outside the country to protect her life in 2016.

A mother of one whose husband was tortured to death by a former senior police officer seven years ago has now sued the government seeking compensation.

In a petition filed before the High Court, Ms Peninah Nkuene Kaumbuthu is seeking general and exemplary damages from the government, for the suffering she underwent after her husband- Martin Koome- was tortured to death at Ruaraka police station on December 19, 2013.

Mr Koome’s killer, former Ruaraka OCS Nahashon Mutua was sentenced to death by High Court judge Stella Mutuku two years ago, for the killing. His appeal was subsequently dismissed.

In the petition, Ms Kaumbuthu says her husband was a young man who was killed at the prime of his life. She says the officers at the station violated his rights and even attempted to cover up for their colleague.

Mr Koome was assaulted and subjected to violence leading to his death and the police failed to take him to hospital quickly to save his life.

And when they took him to hospital, the concerned officers abandoned him at Kenyatta National Hospital unattended on December 20, 2013, without ensuring that he was treated.

“The actions of the respondents contravenes the deceased’s rights to security of person as contemplated under Article 29 as read together with Article 25(a) of the constitution in that the deceased was subjected to cruelty and torture in the hands of the OCS,” she said in the petition.

Ms Kaumbuthu is also accusing the police of failing to investigate all the officers who acted together with Mutua.

“Due to the negligence of the 3rd respondents and the police officers at Ruaraka Police Station the petitioner and her children has continued suffering grief and enduring trauma from the untimely death of her husband,” the petition states.

She wants the court to declare that the police failed to uphold their mandate and obligations as required by the constitution and the National Police Service Orders.

Ms Kaumbuthu reveals that she received threats against her life when the trial started, which forced her to quit her job and relocate outside the country to protect her life in 2016.

“That though the 3rd respondent is now behind bars, his actions still reverberate in my life to date. I continue to grieve and endure trauma from the untimely death of Martin as a claim for general and exemplary damages and compensation as a result of the actions and omissions of the respondents.

Mr Koome had been arrested following a domestic brawl and he was brought to the station drunk. The former police boss descended on him and beat him senseless while immersing him in a drum full of water, to allegedly sober him up.

Koome arrived home and found his wife tending to the six-week-old baby and he snatched the baby from her. He threatened to harm the baby and was arrested and taken to custody.

The wife went to check on him at the station the following day accompanied by Koome’s sister Ann Karimi but they were told that he was injured and taken to KNH.

They arrived to find him bleeding, groaning in pain and his face swollen. He died later the same day. He sustained eight broken ribs, bleeding on the brain and injuries in the face, neck and head.

Cellmates, some of whom testified as protected witnesses said they saw 42-year-old Mutua beating him and when he was returned to the cell, Koome was wet and bleeding.

On the fateful night of December 19, 2013, Mutua did not only beat up Koome but another suspect, Victor Kioko suffered the same fate and sustained broken hands. 

Justice Mutuku found that the officers at the station flouted police procedures, did not check on suspects, some of whom were drunk and disorderly.

Mr Kevin Odhiambo had initially been charged with his murder after the police framed him but the matter was terminated after Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) investigated the matter and found that it was Mutua was the one who assaulted him.

In a bid to fix Odhiambo, Mutua freed suspects including those who had been arrested for robbery with violence so that they could testify against him.

Ms Kaumbuthu says the former OCS misused his authority by bribing and intimidating witnesses, framed an innocent man.

“A declaration that the 2nd respondent has failed in his constitutional obligation to investigate officers based at Ruaraka Police station at the material time to this petition, who acted together with the 3rd respondent to torture and subsequently cover up Koome’s real cause of death,” she states.