NAIROBI – A Kenyan former policeman was sentenced to death on Friday for the murder of a human rights lawyer, his client and a taxi driver.
Frederick Leliman and three others were convicted of carrying out the murders in 2016, in one of a series of cases of alleged police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Kenya.
Lawyer Willie Kimani was representing a motorcycle taxi operator who was suing Leliman for shooting him at a traffic roadblock. Leliman later started threatening and intimidating the man.
The bodies of Kimani, his client Josephat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri were discovered in the Ol-Donyo Sabuk River, in the east of the country, days after they were reported missing.
Evidence produced in court showed that the three were abducted after a court session on June 22, 2016, were briefly locked up and then were taken out and murdered in an open field. Their bodies were discovered on July 1.
Leliman was given a death sentence, while former officers Stephen Cheburet and Sylvia Wanjiku received sentences of 30 and 24 years, respectively, and police informer Peter Ngugi was jailed for 20 years. A fourth former police officer, Leonard Mwangi, was acquitted.
Those sentenced to death in Kenyan courts serve a life sentence. Kenya’s last execution was in 1987.
The four have 14 days to file an appeal.
The murders triggered a series of protests by lawyers and human rights defenders because Kenyan police have in the past been accused of brutality and extrajudicial killings but very few officers have been convicted.