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Kenya Frees 9 Political Prisoners; 4 Allege Torture

From Times Wire Services

Nine political detainees, including the son of Kenya’s former vice president, were released Friday, and four of them told of torture by police.

The four said police were trying to force them to confess links with Mwakenya, an underground Marxist group opposed to President Daniel Arap Moi’s government.

Their release came as Moi dissolved Parliament to prepare for general elections. Voting is scheduled for March 21. All candidates for the 188 seats must be members of the Kenyan African National Union, the only legal party.

Tax consultant Isaiah Ngotho wa Kariuki, 38; University of Nairobi sociology lecturer Katama Mkangi, 43; free-lance journalist Paul Amina, and teacher Patrick Ouma Onyango appeared at a news conference to protest their alleged torture.

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They described how police beat them with strips of car tires and table legs and kept them naked and without food for up to two weeks in cells flooded with water.

Amnesty International has criticized Kenya’s human rights record. However, Moi has denied that his government condones torture, and he defends Kenya’s rights record.

The other detainees who were freed are Raila Amolo Odinga, son of former Vice President Oginga Odinga; Herbert Lusiolo, Nicodemus Benedict Obiero and Justin Nyaga Ngola, believed to be former members of the air force, and businessman Israel Otieno Wasonga Agina.

The alleged crimes of the detainees ranged from “giving information to a hostile press” to having links with a 1982 coup attempt.


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