Gruesome confessions of police killings by death squad driver

Testimony by a former member of a Kenya Police death squad reveals the extent to which senior police officers ordered the killings of thousands of people.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Former police driver, Bernard Kiriinya, seen here in this video grab from a testimony he made to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Bernard Kiriinya told the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights of police officers abducting people from homes, roadsides and restaurants. The victims were taken to isolated locations where they were shot dead and the bodies chopped to pieces.

The bodies of the victims were deliberately disfigured with rungus and pangas to conceal their identity. This explains why hundreds of people are listed as missing even though their bodies may be lying in mortuaries across the country.

For those Kenyans who support police death squads on grounds of eliminating Mungiki, Kiriinya revealed in his taped testimony that police officers killed people in order to steal money and property.

A Corporal Njoroge took a new Subaru Outback owned by a man he abducted and killed in Kiambu. The same Corporal Njoroge took two vehicles from a Kariobangi based businessman known as, “Mashukaru” after abducting and torturing him to death. Mashukaru had his eyes removed during torture at Matuu, where he had been taken. After he was killed, the body was dumped in a dam. Njoroge returned to Nairobi and gave the two vehicles to senior policemen as gifts.

Virginia Nyakio, wife to jailed Mungiki leader Maina Njenga, was abducted and killed because of Kshs5 million (US$62,500) in her possession. Her body and that of her driver were extensively mutilated by police officers to make it appear as the work of a rival Mungiki faction. This was the line of investigation that police sold to the public back in April 2008.

Unfortunately, Bernard Kiriinya is no longer available to produce further evidence. He was shot and killed in Nairobi soon after his testimony. The gunmen have never been caught. However, the tapes he left behind prove that truth will always defeat evil. Whatever is done in the dark will someday come to light regardless of how long it takes.

To what extent was the police command involved? Kiriinya said that Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and senior commanders were fully briefed on the activities of police death squads. Officers who were involved in killings regularly received cash payments ranging from Kshs 2,000 (US$25) to Kshs15,000 ($187) for each successful “assignment.”

During the torture of suspected Mungiki leader Kimani Ruo at Ngong Forest, police officers called their bosses and replayed tapes of his confessions. On hearing the tapes, Provincial Police Officer Njagi Njue ordered over the telephone that, “kazi iendelee,” meaning the work should continue. Police Commissioner Ali ordered that Kimani Ruo be killed with instructions that the body should never be discovered. Indeed, Kimani Ruo’s family never knew what happened to him, until Kiriinya’s tape was made public in February.

The Police Commissioner recommended for promotion several police officers who excelled in death squad operations. A Mr Maina was promoted overnight from a Corporal to Inspector of Police. His colleague was promoted from Constable to Corporal under similar circumstances. There are many such promotions that continue to take place within the Kenya Police force.

Police commanders encouraged financial fraud in order to reward death squad operatives. Senior officers in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) ordered junior officers to make false overtime claims in order to get paid for their secret activities. The officers complied and went home with Shs10,000 each ($125).

Such tactics are deliberately designed to frustrate future investigations as records will only show payments for overtime. It also makes it easier for police to request extra funds from the Ministry of Finance on grounds that officers are putting in “extra hours.”

Police officers outside of the death squads were not spared either. At one time, a Constable hiked a lift in a police Land Rover that was ferrying four Mungiki suspects to Murang’a. On arrival, the four suspects were ordered to get out and lie on their bellies where afterwards they were shot. The innocent constable was also killed in order to conceal the executions.

Most Kenyans do not appreciate the extent of rot within the police force. It is common to hear individuals arguing that the deaths of a few innocent people is a worthy price to pay in the war against crime and Mungiki. But who decides between innocence and guilt? Isn’t that what the courts are for?

Giving individual police officers the power to decide between guilt and innocence is a disaster in the making. Kiriinya’s testimony reveals that the officers involved in death squad operations are driven by the desire for wealth and glory. Police officers get overnight promotions for torturing and killing people. Others do it in order to steal money, vehicles and other property.

Surely, this is a lawless society. Unless death squads are stopped and the guilty officers brought to book, the future of Kenya is in doubt. And for this, President Mwai Kibaki must accept responsibility.

The Nairobi Chronicle recommends that every Kenyan read for themselves the signed confession by Bernard Kiriinya. Its only 16 pages long and just 1.4 MB in size. Click here to download the PDF document from Mars Group.
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4 Responses

  1. […] government is tainted with massive corruption scandals involving maize, oil, drugs and kickbacks. A United Nations report implicated the government in the abduction, torture and killings of thousands of youths. The military, acting under Kibaki’s orders, killed thousands during a […]

  2. […] Action must be taken against individuals accused of extra judicial killings. The United Nations has linked Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali to the abduction and disappearances of thousands of people in the “War against […]

  3. […] Unfortunately, Bernard Kiriinya is no longer available to produce further evidence. He was shot and killed in Nairobi soon after his testimony. The gunmen have never been caught. However, the tapes he left behind prove that truth will always defeat evil. Read more of his testimony by clicking here. […]

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