Kenyan court convicts police officer for 2013 murder of suspected thief

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 08, 2018 6:42 AM

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan court has convicted a policeman of murdering a suspected thief in 2013 in a rare victory for the independent police watchdog that brought the case, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.

The judge ruled on Wednesday that policeman Titus Musila should have arrested Kenneth Mwangi, whom he believed had stolen a mobile phone, instead of shooting him three times in the head. He set Feb. 27 as the date for sentence.

Musila earlier told the court he was innocent and was dedicated to fighting crime in Githurai, a poor neighborhood outside Nairobi, where he said a tough approach to theft is merited.

Kenyan police frequently face accusations of brutality and extrajudicial killings from civilians and rights groups but officers are rarely charged and almost never convicted.

Police spokesman Charles Owino did not respond to phone calls requesting comment.

The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), which is run by civilians, investigated the death after Mwangi's relatives filed a complaint against the policeman.

The authority was established by the government in 2011, after police drew criticism for killing many protesters after disputed elections of 2007. It is only the second conviction of a policeman that has resulted from an IPOA investigation.

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In 2016, two officers were sentenced to seven years after a 14-year-old girl was shot dead during a house raid in coastal Kwale County in 2014.

(Reporting By Maggie Fick; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)