Freed Lawyer Alleges Torture; President Blasts Amnesty International
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ A lawyer freed Saturday after 10 months in prison said police tortured him mentally and threatened to kill him if he didn’t promise to stop defending political prisoners.
Gibson Kamau Kuria made his claims to The Associated Press the same day that President Daniel arap Moi denounced Amnesty International for a report alleging human rights violations in Kenya.
″Amnesty International, I say to hell,″ Moi said in a speech marking Kenya’s 24th anniversary as a republic. He accused the representative who visited Kenya of smearing his country’s name and warned: ″If I see him in Nairobi I will arrest him.
″He is not appointed to supervise us. If anybody within Kenya becomes a nuisance, we will deal with him ... according to the laws of the land.″
Moi announced he was releasing three of the 14 political detainees that his government has acknowledged it was holding. Hours later, Kuria and Gacheche wa Miano, a former law student, were freed. Sources said the third detainee to be freed was a former member of the disbanded Kenya Air Force, but they didn’t know his name.
Kuria, 40, was arrested Feb. 26, a day after filing suit against the government to challenge the 1986 detention of two lawyers and a university lecturer. He was formally charged a week later on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.
Miano was a law student at the University of Nairobi when he was arrested April 24, 1986.
Kuria told the AP that police mentally tortured him before charging him and tried to force him to confess links to Mwakenya, a clandestine Marxist opposition group.
″I’m not afraid. I don’t mind going back in,″ Kuria said as he sat in his living room with his wife, Waithera, and their two young children. ″I told these people that I was prepared to die for the truth.″
Kuria said he was interrogated for four straight days, sometimes after being ordered to exercise naked before jeering officers.
″They told me that I was going to be killed and to go and say my last prayers to my God,″ Kuria said. ″I believed them because I knew people had been tortured and I could hear people groaning and crying in other cells.″
Kuria said he was not tortured physically.He said he was not allowed to see his lawyers until July and was kept in solitary confinement throughout his detention.
Amnesty International accused Moi’s government of torture, political detentions and unfair trials in a special report on Kenya in July and in its annual report in September.
The London-based human rights organization said the government had instituted a ″deliberate program to silence or intimidate its political opponents.″
Amnesty International said more than 200 Kenyans have been jailed because of suspected links with Mwakenya.
The government says all those jailed because of alleged Mwakenya ties received fair trials and that the detainees were legally held under the Preservation of Public Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without charge or trial.
″We hide nothing. What we don’t want is for anybody to come and interfere with our internal affairs,″ Moi said.