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Kenya court resumes trial of 'killer cop'

By Hillary ORINDE - AFP
Kenya Dozens of families and activists protested during Ahmed Rashid's arraignment in 2022.  By Tony KARUMBA (AFP/File)
WED, 12 JUN 2024 LISTEN
Dozens of families and activists protested during Ahmed Rashid's arraignment in 2022. By Tony KARUMBA (AFP/File)

A Kenyan court on Wednesday resumed hearing a murder case against a former police officer accused of gunning down two unarmed teenagers in broad daylight seven years ago.

Dubbed the "killer cop" by domestic media, Ahmed Rashid was filmed shooting the two young men as they lay on the ground on a busy street in the capital Nairobi on March 31, 2017.

The incident triggered protests in the East African nation, where police are feared and face frequent allegations of extrajudicial killings but are seldom convicted.

In a packed courtroom in Nairobi, Rashid appeared before judge Diana Rachel Kavedza as his former boss took to the witness stand to testify against him.

At least seven other witnesses are expected over the course of two days.

Rashid has denied murder charges and insisted he was carrying out his duty against criminals.

Relatives of at least 41 people believed to have been victims of Rashid's alleged brutality were present in the court at Kibera, Kenya's largest slum.

'Case of the decade'

Kenyan police are often accused by rights groups of using excessive force and carrying out unlawful killings, especially in poor neighbourhoods.

They have also been accused in the past of running hit squads targeting people such as rights activists and lawyers investigating alleged abuses by police.

There have been few examples of police being held to account.

This is despite Kenya's parliament establishing the International Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) in 2011 to provide civilian scrutiny of a powerful institution also reputed to be among the country's most corrupt.

Activists largely defend the IPOA's record, saying police often frustrate investigations by refusing to cooperate.

Rashid's case "will break that tradition and hopefully set a new course in terms of accountability for police violence", Amnesty International's executive director in Kenya Irungu Houghton told AFP on Wednesday.

"This is turning out to be probably the case of the decade in the sense of its complexity," he said, referring to police officers testifying against their own.

At least 118 people were died in extrajudicial killings by Kenyan police last year, local and international rights groups said in a report published in April.

According to Missing Voices, a campaign group focused on extrajudicial killings in Kenya, there have been at least 1,350 deaths at the hands of police and 350 enforced disappearances since it began collecting data in 2017.

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