“A special team has been set up to investigate the mysterious death, while in police custody, of a British man in Diani. Coast provincial investigation officer Ambrose Munyasia says the team will look into claims that Alexander Monson was assaulted by police and even handcuffed to a hospital bed while unconscious.” (The Star)
“Last night, the head of Mombasa’s Provincial Criminal Investigation Office, Ambrose Munyasia, said: ‘I am appointing senior officers to a special task force which will hold a thorough inquiry. A person has died in the arms of the police and we must investigate his death.’ (Daily Mail)
On the surface of it, any positive action by the Kenyan police has to be a good thing, and certainly the district chief of police Mr Richard Muguai whilst still denying that his officers were involved: ‘I continue to deny my officers were in any way involved in that man’s death‘. Goes on to say that he will taken action if the case is proved : “But if any future investigation found that they were involved, I will personally charge them with murder.”
We don’t want to appear negative about this investigation, and hope that after a week has gone by, they will still able to piece the real story together. But as the Forum has noted before, investigations in Kenya do not have a good track record for results.
We only have to mention the name Julie Ward: her murder is still unsolved 23years on, despite John Wards heroic efforts and £2m of his own cash.
In terms of internal investigations the list of unsolved high profile murders is well known…Robert Ouko, Pio Gama Pinto, Josiah Kariuki, Josslyn Hay etc etc……none have resulted in successful prosecutions..
When the pressure is on, Kenyan are masters at dragging investigations into the mire. False statements, story changes, disappearing acts, conspiracy theories, counter-accusations and bogus alabis are all features of a typical investigation. Transferring implicated policemen to other regions, never to be seen again, is another common trick used by the Kenyan police to keep the dirt off their own patch.
This investigation more so than ever needs to be swift and incisive.
We had the murder of David Tebbutt and his wife, Judith’s abduction (Judith was released after the family paid the ransom in March this year) which prompted embassies across the world to restrict travel in the far north coast. Then the abduction and death of Marie Dedieu a few weeks later has to this day all but closed Lamu and Manda as tourist destinations.
Now, the enemy, it seems is not an external threat but an internal one in Diani.
If tourists are put off visiting the area for fear of their safety then the southern coastal resorts, like the northern resorts, are really going to suffer.
Last weeks depressing news from Wycliff Oparanya on the ailing Kenyan economy showed that tourism was one of the few remaining economic growth areas left. A quick look at the Kenyan tourist board statistics shows that Europe and in particular the UK makes up the vast majority of the revenue.
We can’t afford to let this one go “into the mire” like all the rest.