APs get death sentence for killing seven taxi drivers

PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU Four of the six police officers found guilty of killing seven taxi drivers at Kawangware shopping centre on March 11, 2010 in a Nairobi court on December 18, 2012. They were sentenced to death December 19, 2012

Six Administration Police officers have been sentenced to death for killing seven taxi drivers at Kawangware shopping centre in Nairobi two years ago.

The officers were found guilty by a Nairobi court Tuesday and convicted of seven counts of murder.

High Court Judge Fred Ochieng ruled that even though he had taken into consideration that the officers were remorseful about their actions, seven lives had been lost and the appropriate sentence would be death.

“I have considered their mitigation that they are still young and have families to take care of. However, seven persons lost their lives due to their actions and they too left families who depended on them and although death sentence is not mandatory, I hold that it is the appropriate sentence,” ruled Justice Ochieng Wednesday.

In passing the sentence, the judge said he was persuaded by the fact that any person who seeks and is given authority to wield a firearm must accept it’s a heavy responsibility adding that he who accepts great authority must also accept great responsibility.

Not even pleas of mercy from Ahmed Mohamed Omar, Ahmed Abdallah Shaffi, Michael Ngungu Lewa, Moses Lochich, Nelson Kipchirchir Too and Erick Ebere Melchizedek could convince the judge to pass a lesser sentence.

Omar pleaded with the judge to consider the circumstances surrounding the killings, saying that it happened while he was in the line of duty.

He said he had served the administration police for six years without any disciplinary action against him and that he was the only bread winner for his 80-year-old mother and two young children.

Ageing parents

Shaffi asked the court for leniency, saying that he was the sole provider for his family who have been exposed to untold suffering for the three years he has been in custody.

Lewa, on the other hand, said he regretted the actions of that night and asked to be forgiven while Lochich said he was the only provider for his ageing parents, wife and child.

Kipchirchir said he was remorseful for the action which happened after 17 years of service and pleaded with the court to consider his 81-year-old father who depended on him.

Melchizedek, on his part, said he joined the police force just two years before the incident, and that he had struggled to get the job and would be a teacher to others if given a lesser sentence.

Justice Ochieng however said all the circumstances of the offence were relevant but could not deter him from passing the mandatory sentence.

“I have considered the officers have been in custody for three years, each has a family to take care of, that they acted while in line of duty and that death sentence is no longer mandatory but I hold that the appropriate sentence is death,” said Ochieng.

The six officers were on Tuesday found guilty of killing Harry Gideon Thuku, James Mugweru Mwangi, Joseph Maina Mwangi, George Nganga Thairu, William Gitonga Njau, Joseph Ngugi Chege and Joseph Thiongo Njoroge on March 11 2010 along Naivasha Road in Kwangware within Nairobi.

They were all convicted for seven counts of murder after the judge ruled that they had a clear intention and malice aforethought of eliminating the taxi drivers as nothing justified the killings.

Justice Ochieng said in his judgment that there was no doubt all the seven drivers were killed by bullets and that all the officers confirmed they were within the area of the killing, that they were on duty and that they were all armed with guns loaded with ammunitions.

He ruled that even if he was to accept a theory by the officers that they were confronted by the drivers and that they were acting in self-defence, they were in a position to take cover and seek for reinforcement without using bullets to take away their lives.


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