Kenyan police in court over lawyer Willie Kimani's death

  • Published
Protestors carrying a coffin smeared red paintImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Protestors stained a coffin with red paint to represent fake blood at the rally for human rights lawyer Willie Kimani

Three Kenyan police officers have appeared in court over the murder of a human rights lawyer, whose body was found on Friday after he went missing.

Willie Kimani disappeared after lodging a complaint against a police officer on behalf of a client, who was also killed, along with their driver.

The Law Society of Kenya has called on all lawyers to boycott courts this week, while nationwide protests have been organised.

The three officers have not commented.

A judge ordered that they be held in custody for two weeks while investigations are carried out. They were not charged as we initially reported.

All court cases that were due to be heard this week will now be adjourned until lawyers return to work after the boycott, reports the BBC's Ferdinand Omondi in Nairobi.

Image source, IJM
Image caption,
Willie Kimani went missing shortly after leaving a Nairobi court

The killings have sparked outrage in Kenya and many have blamed the police force for a series of extrajudicial killings in recent years.

The hashtag #StopExtrajudicialKillings gained popularity on social media as people gathered to take part in protests around the country.

A joint statement by 34 Kenyan and international human rights organisations condemned the killings, reports the AFP news agency.

"These extrajudicial killings are a chilling reminder that the hard-won right to seek justice for human rights violations is under renewed attack," said Muthoni Wanyeki from Amnesty International.

Government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told the BBC's Newsday programme there were no "death squads" within the police force and that allegations of officers committing crimes would be fully investigated.

Kenyan security forces carried out 25 extrajudicial killing between 2013 and 2015, Kenya's official rights body said.

However, non-governmental watchdog Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) says the police killed 97 people in 2015 alone.

High-profile extrajudicial killings in Kenya:

Image source, Daily Nation
Image caption,
Police said about at least 10 bullets were fired at Jacob Juma's Mercedes car
  • In May 2016 Businessman Jacob Juma was shot dead while driving home. He had been involved in several high-profile legal cases against the government over failed business deals
  • In October 2013 Muslim cleric Ibrahim "Rogo" Omar was shot dead while driving home. Mr Rogo was alleged to have links with Islamist militants al-Shabab
  • In August 2012 Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was from the same mosque as Mr Omar and was also accused of backing al-Shabab
  • In March 2009 human rights activist Oscar Kamau Kingara, who investigated extrajudicial killings, was shot dead in his car shot as he drove home.

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