A top detective vehemently denied that Kenya’s police participated in the violence that erupted after the disputed December 2007 presidential poll during his testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC) today.
Mohamed Ibrahim Amin, who was the top detective in the Rift Valley during the post-election violence, told the court on Tuesday the violence that erupted in Nakuru and Naivasha in late January 2008 was spontaneous and not organized as the prosecution alleges.
He said he did not receive orders to allow the Mungiki criminal gang to kill and commit other crimes in those towns. Amin also said that he did not hear that other officers were given such orders by their superiors or the then Police Commissioner, Mohammed Hussein Ali, who is a suspect before the court. Amin now works at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters in the capital Nairobi.
Amin gave his testimony as a defense witness for Ali during the eleventh day of hearings before Pre-Trial Chamber II. The judges of the chamber are holding the sessions, formally called confirmation of charges hearings, to help them sift through the prosecution’s case and decide whether it should proceed to trial.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo wants Ali and two other suspects charged with five counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the bloodshed that saw more than 1,000 people killed over a two-month period across the country. The other suspects are Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, who is also the country’s finance chief.
Ocampo alleges the three are the masterminds of or contributed to the violence in the two towns by planning for Mungiki to unleash terror against non-Kikuyus in retaliation for the killings of Kikuyus in the northern part of the Rift Valley.
“Why I am saying that those attacks were spontaneous is we never had an indication,” Amin told the court as he was led in his evidence by Ali’s lead counsel, Gregory Kehoe. “Naivasha was an oasis of peace when other parts of Rift Valley erupted in violence. The same applied to Nakuru.”
He also said that the weapons he saw civilians carrying in Naivasha looked like the sort one just picked up such as machetes and clubs.
“But if a gang is organized, I think they will be more sophisticated. They’ll look for firearms,” Amin said.
He also said that he and his officers investigated allegations that Mungiki were transported in military trucks to Naivasha and Nakuru, but they did not find any evidence of it. Amin also said there was no truth to the allegation that there were people who were not officers who were wearing military or police uniforms at the time.
Amin, however, seemed most irked by the allegation that Ali had given orders to the police not to interfere with Mungiki during that period, despite a police crackdown on the gang.
“It’s like somebody asking me to take a rope and go and commit suicide. It’s impossible. There’s no way we would allow that,” Amin said. “Will I tell the Luo officer stand aside so that Mungiki can unleash terror on your people? That is not possible.”
Prosecutor Adesola Adeboyejo questioned Amin about why his statement to Ali’s defense team made this year was similar to his testimony to the government-appointed commission that investigated the post-election violence three years ago.
“Even if I am to record 10 other statements…the contents would be the same,” Amin said.
Much of Adeboyejo’s questioning touched on confidential matters, which saw the court go into private session three times. When the court came out of its third private session, Morris Anyah, the victims’ lawyer began his cross-examination of Amin, highlighting the fact that a number of his clients claimed the police participated in or did not help victims during the violence.
“There were many exchanges and in a situation of violence collaterals are always there,” Amin said, adding that the police did not deliberately shoot any one.
“Were it not for General Ali and the police, God forbid, our country would have been in a conflict situation now,” said Amin.