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Second Robbery Suspect Dies In Police Custody

January 29, 1988

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Newspapers on Friday reported the death of another man held in police custody, and President Daniel arap Moi said he will punish police found guilty of crimes against individuals.

The man was among five people whose deaths in custody during the past year are under investigation. Officials alleged that two of those detained had links with Mwakenya, a clandestine Marxist group opposed to Moi’s Western- leaning, capitalist government.

″Police officers will answer for the crimes they commit against wananchi (the people),″ Moi said at the opening of a western Kenya agricultural show.

Moi did not cite specific cases, but said police investigators should treat suspects and culprits according to the law.

He said he had fired the commissioner of police and appointed a new comissioner last week ″to purge the force of elements that discredit the government’s name.″

Francis Serem, coastal police chief, said Tabu Kotela Kiombwe, of Zaire, died Monday of unknown causes while helping police investigate the Jan. 14 robbery of more than $250,000 from a security van.

Kiombwe’s death comes 11 days after Joseph Baraza, the Kenyan driver of the van, died 24 hours after his arrest. Serem said Baraza died ″in the course of police investigation.″ Earlier, police said he collapsed and died while trying to escape.

Serem said the dead men’s families will be allowed to ″have qualified doctors of their own choice″ at post-mortem examinations.

The widow of Kiambu farmer Stephen Mbaraka Karanja is suing for the return of her husband’s body, which was buried without the family’s knowledge after police fatally shot him in April last year. Police said he tried to escape.

A Nairobi judge, who last year demanded police find the body and explain the death, was ordered off the case by Kenya’s chief judge. The body has not been produced and the case was continued until next week.

On Feb. 9, Nairobi High Court is to hear closing arguments at an inquest into the death of businessman Peter Karanja, who is no relation to Stephen. Police arrested Peter Karanja on Feb. 7 last year on suspicion of links with Mwakenya.

According to testimony, Karanja was held without charge and incommunicado for three weeks before dying of pneumonia and intestinal gangrene. Medical experts testified that Karanja, who was in good health before his arrest, had injuries consistent with beatings.

Also arrested for alleged Mwakenya links was Stephen Wanjema, a carpenter who died 13 days after police picked him up on Aug. 29, 1986. His family has filed suit alleging Wanjema was unlawfully detained and tortured and that no inquest was held into his death in custody.

More than 80 Kenyans - including university professors, students, journalists and junior civil servants - have been jailed during the past 21 months after allegedly confessing to ties with Mwakenya.

In addition, the government has detained 11 people without charge for alleged Mwakenya links since March 1986.

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