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Police officers behind journalist’s arrest and torture unmasked

Human rights groups have identified three Administration police officers at the centre of the arrest and torture of a journalist and an activist in Usenge, Siaya County on Wednesday.

Following an outcry, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and Community Initiative Action Group launched an independent probe into the arrest of Standard Journalist Isaiah Gwengi and rights activist Rodgers Ochieng’.

KNCHR official Beryl Orao from Kisumu and rights group activists Audi Ogada and Chris Owala, the Community Initiative Action Group director on Friday visited Usenge town and managed to talk to Mr Gwengi at his home.

“Generally, it is clear that the alleged incident took place. That there was harm and losses suffered. That there was harassment, threats, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, expulsion, violence and curfew imposed by QRT unit. That it was debasing and humiliating,” read a statement by the trio.

Mr Ogada said the victims were tortured at Usenge market, inside the police vehicle, at the QRT chief camp and at the hospital in Got Agulu. The assaults resulted in bruises, head cuts, swollen body parts and emotional trauma.

ASSAULTED

“The officers who were involved in this were seven in number. Among the seven were; Sergeant Jarison Lempaute, APC Dan Kimori and APC Felix Maubi all of QRT,” said Mr Ogada.

He said Mr Gwengi and Mr Ochieng’ had been booked (OB 15/22/2017) and the alleged offences were; incitement to violence, resisting arrest and assault.

The officer in charge of QRT, Mr Ogada said, was “more brutal and self-styled who has nicknamed himself as ‘no nonsense man’ identified as Inspector Bernard Ongoro.”

Mr Owala said through Mr Ongoro’s command, “his boys have previously assaulted assistant chief of the area and even fellow regular police officers.”

“His unbecoming behaviour is well known by his bosses,” he said.

Ms Orao said the records for treatment of the duo were reportedly taken by the police from the hospital.

ARREST OF OFFICERS

However, Siaya county AP commandant Ben Mandere could not be reached for comments.

Initially he accused Mr Gwengi and Mr Ochieng’ of allegedly inciting members of the public to turn against QRT officers.

“Some belongings of the suspects were forcefully taken from them, some returned but some like a mobile phone belonging to Mr Ochieng’ is still missing,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Media Council of Kenya has called for the immediate arrest of police officers involved in the alleged assault.

MCK chairman Mr Charles Kerich said the case will be pursued until justice is served as such incidents have become common.

Standard Group deputy editorial director Mr Kipkoech Tanui said it was worrying that the attack was premeditated.