Emails from UK experts contradict govt’s report on Mutula Kilonzo’s death
Details about the death of Senator Mutula Kilonzo have emerged, contradicting a government report that was released on Thursday stating that he died of massive bleeding caused by high blood pressure.
On Thursday, Dr S.W. Mwangi told a Machakos court that Mr Kilonzo had failed to wake up from his sleep and that the blood pressure had been exacerbated by a decongestant and caffeine that the former senator had taken.
Email correspondence seen by the Nation between Kenyan pathologists and their UK counterpart Ian Calder, who had been hired by the family, show a different story.
CONSUME CARBONATED DRINKS
Sources close to Mr Kilonzo said he was never known to consume carbonated drinks or caffeine, “and would never take it even if you offered it when he was really hungry”.
The hearing at the Machakos court came abruptly on Thursday, after being cold for more than three-and-a-half years, and only two weeks after Nation made enquiries from the government on the state of the case.
None of the pathologists who had attended to Mr Kilonzo’s body were informed of the release of the report, sources said.
The lawmaker died on April 27, 2013 at his home. Having not reported any history of illness – as the correspondence shows – his death came as a surprise to the family and the country, triggering conspiracy theories.
However, efforts by the family and Kenyan pathologists to get an answer as to what happened have left several questions about what killed him and why the government would not release postmortem results until four years later.
The first doctor to arrive at the scene was Dr Mwangi, a general practitioner. He told the court on Thursday that Mutula had bled and vomited, an observation backed by a pathologist who participated in the initial post-mortem.
When the post-mortem was scheduled, the name of a UK pathologist – Dr Calder – emerged, and the hide-and-seek began.
The post-mortem was scheduled for Monday, April 29, 2013 but, given the political heat that the death had sparked, the team of 12 experts postponed it to the following day as they awaited the arrival of Dr Calder.
When Dr Calder came, he went to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to get a licence. The board’s CEO Daniel Yumbya said Dr Calder was taken to their offices by Machakos senator Johnson Muthama.
“He followed due procedure and got his licence to practise,” Mr Yumbya said.
After certification, the post-mortem began in the presence of Dr Johansen Oduor, the government pathologist. Dr Mwangi and Dr Luke Musau, who was Mr Kilonzo’s physician, were present as well as morticians Cege and Mugo from Lee Funeral Home.
In the room, the documents show, were also Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua as well as the senator’s son Mutula Kilonzo Jnr and four other people.
A total of more than 45 samples were collected from the body such as blood, urine, bile, other bodily fluids and tissues. One batch of 45 was sent to the government chemist and the other to the UK for toxicology.
A pathologist, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, but who had details about the case and who saw the body, said the politician may have come into contact with a lethal poison.
“He may have ingested poison because he was bleeding from everywhere,” he told the Sunday Nation, adding that “the only way to be sure was through the toxicology exams”.
The results from this post-mortem raise questions about the high blood pressure theory. There were 16 observations that reconstructed the painful way Mr Kilonzo spent his last seconds.
A private pathologist, who also sought to remain anonymous, offered an interpretation of the results: The senator’s aorta – the body’s largest blood vessel which supplies blood to all the other organs – had deposits of cholesterol and was a little dilated (normally called aneurism).
“That is common for people who are older, and it is what causes heart attacks in most of them, and that could be worsened by blood pressure,” the pathologist said.
His eyes, when opened, showed that he had bled severely.
The senator’s mouth and limbs were bluish, a result of lack of oxygen circulating to the rest of the body, probably due to massive bleeding that denied his body the blood to supply oxygen, the doctor added.
“This must have been at the terminal stages of death,” the doctor said.
Mr Kilonzo’s brain had been “flattened”, an indication that he was bleeding even in his head to which the doctor further explained: “Since the brain is such a confined place, the blood had nowhere to flow to and thus squeezing his brain. He must have had very severe headaches and people die immediately of this.”
The Kenyan team never received the toxicology results to explain the marks on the former senator’s body, those privy to the investigations said. Instead, what ensued would be cat and mouse games between Dr Calder and the Kenyan team.
Since there were no specialised laboratories, the documents show, Dr Calder suggested that the samples be ferried to London. He instructed that the samples be sent to Prof Sue Patterson at the Forensic Department of Imperial College. Dr Calder said he would send his answers after an average of seven weeks.
On May 9, 2013, the samples are said to have been dispatched by a special courier authorised by Nairobi Hospital’s chief technologist Peter Kariuki.
On May 13, 2013 a Mr Menendez received the samples and responded “Received in good condition” in email on the receipt. Eight weeks later, the Kenyan team started seeking answers. Dr Calder would not answer emails or pick up calls.
In November 2013, Dr Calder wrote to Mr Kilonzo Jnr, the current Makueni Senator, alleging that the samples were contaminated and asked for more, a request the Kenyan doctors could not honour because the body had far decomposed.
An enraged Mr Kilonzo Jnr wrote to Dr Musau, terming the claim that the samples were contaminated “alarming and criminal”.
He threatened to spill the beans to the public if there were any attempts to cover-up the cause of his father’s death. What followed was a series of emails to Dr Calder inquiring about the cause of the contamination even after they were received and a response given that they were in good condition.
They were also shocked that all of the 45 samples were so spoilt that they could not offer any results. In his email, Dr Calder said he had sent provisional results on the cause of death, a report the family and the team of pathologists denied to have ever seen.
CAUSE OF DEATH
His email read: “My view as to the cause and mode of death has not changed over the months as formed within the short time following the autopsy.
“I have discussed this with colleagues at the Royal College of Pathologists, Royal College of Physicians, Department of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University, forensic pathologists, toxicologists, haematologists and pharmacologists at the highest level, and they all agree with my opinion. However, without basic science applied to non-contaminated specimens, I cannot put a final signature to my report.”
Dr Oduor has not responded to the Nation’s inquiries on the matter.
On Saturday, Mr Kilonzo Jnr declined to comment on the matter.
Although the former lawmaker’s son filed a complaint at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, there have been no reports on the progress of the investigation.