Kenya police ‘liable’ over baby’s election protest death

A Kenyan inquest on Friday found five police commanders liable in the death of a six-month-old baby who was killed in a crackdown on election protests in August 2017.

The baby, Samantha Pendo, became a symbol of unchecked police brutality during a drawn-out and disputed presidential election in which at least 92 people died over four months in 2017, according to rights groups.

Her parents said police had forced their way into their home during protests in western Kisumu, raining blows on the couple while the mother held Samantha in her arms.

“I have evaluated the entire evidence presented before me and I am satisfied that the deceased did not die as a result of natural consequences but due to severe head injury caused by blunt force trauma inflicted on her by the police,” said Beryl Omollo, the magistrate in the Kisumu court.

An autopsy had shown that Pendo had suffered acute head injuries, her scalp cracking as a result of brutal force by the police.

Omollo found five senior officers “liable” for the death, based on the principle of command responsibility, and called on the director of public prosecutions to arraign them.

Rights groups condemned the behaviour of police during protests that followed the announcement of election results in August and the ensuing months after the Supreme Court overturned the result and called for a second election.

Police denied excessive use of force in clamping down on protesters.

Extra-judicial killings are rife in Kenya, and justice is rare with few examples of police being held to account.

© Agence France-Presse

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