DEATH IN CUSTODY SET TO ROCK KENYA / UK RELATIONS
Another suspicious death in police custody, and of no less than the heir of a British aristocrat, is bound to cast fresh shadows over Kenya / UK relations. Pathologists, according to reports emerging yesterday at the south coast of Mombasa in Diani, where this correspondent is coincidentally staying at present, speak of blunt force trauma to the head, causing a severe haematoma of the brain. While it appears the police officers at Diani police station rushed the 28 year old victim to hospital, when they realized how serious his condition had become, allegations are now flying wildly about regular police brutality, mostly inflicted on Kenyans themselves, though in this case a tourist visitor they had arrested over alleged use of smoking bhang akamarijuana. A family spokesperson was quoted overnight in the local media as categorically rejecting the hastily manufactured explanation by a police spokesman, that the late Alexander Monson died of heartfailure, other than induced by a brutal beating to the head, as the reported post mortem seems to have established.
The case is also bound to renew interest in the decades long unsolved murder of young Julie Ward, whose father has fought a never ending battle to see suspects brought to trial, bound to make its way back into the UK media which will have a field day with the latest case already, all but claiming that Alexander fell victim to regular police brutality as seen every day across Kenyas police stations. It will also not be good news for Kenyas tourism sector, presently experiencing the fallout of a low season with reduced visitor numbers, putting a strain on the coast resorts some of which have in fact closed for renovations though in clear text mostly for lack of business. Said a regular source from the coast on condition of strict anonymity, not wishing to be quoted for fear of police reprisals: Suggestions the young man died of a drug overdose as the police spokesman insinuated are pure speculation if not a smoke screen they are now throwing up to cover their tracks. When they talk of someone helping with their investigations, we all know that it is under the brutal onslaught of flying fists and kicks that they try to extract confessions. The Kenya Police should make way to have this independently investigated like in the UK, when in such cases the Independent Police Complaints Commission steps in. They have done tourism no favour at this crucial time. Mind you, I am not saying that violations of the law should not be followed just because it was a foreign tourist who might be involved, but what I am saying that suspects are just that, suspects, until proven guilty by a court and the police here has no business to behave like it was the dark ages. The UK mainstream market has softened and such negative publicity is only bound to make the work of our marketers even more difficult.
The British High Commission and consular staff based in Mombasa are reportedly following the case closely now that the proverbial has hit the fan as the mainstream media got hold of the story, after being tipped by relatives and friends of the victims who are now assembling at Diani, as the police tried to keep the case under wraps. Unsuccessfully as it turns out, as the truth is bound to emerge. Question is, as and when the police has no other choice but to arrest the officers involved in this tragic death of a suspect in custody, will they treat their colleagues the same way? Watch this space.