MUHURI has sued former Changamwe OCS, Yusuf Ibrahim, over the brutal in-custody murder of Caleb Espino.
The tout’s murder occurred in the wee hours of September 18, 2018, inside Changamwe police station.
Police relentlessly tortured Espino to death. He was aged 40, a husband and father of four.
Mombasa Resident Magistrate, Vincent Adet is handling the case.
The case first came up on October 1. Adet set its mention on October 15, pushed it to October 28, before rescheduling it to November 23.
MUHURI opted for a private prosecution against Ibrahim and National Police Service (NPS), the second respondent.
The Director of Public Prosecution and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), a body created to hold the police to account, have not charged Espino murderers, over two years after he died. And that is why MUHURI is prosecuting privately.
IPOA and ODPP have the identities of at least two other cops who also assaulted Espino.
How police murdered Espino
Police arrested Espino on the evening of September 17, 2018, at White Castle Bar during a swoop on drinking dens.
The officers demanded Sh10,000 bribe to free Espino and three others they had apprehended. None bribed and police locked them up at Changamwe station.
Espino lost his life after police hit him with wooded clubs, punches, and kicks, and put him in a tight chokehold, according to witnesses whose names MUHURI is withholding for security reasons.
They said police handcuffed Espino from behind during the attack, preventing him from finding his footing when they violently pushed and crushed his skull on a metal box at the cell corridor. An autopsy revealed he succumbed at this point.
Witnesses further disclosed to MUHURI that Espino, while at the cell, demanded to know why police arrested him. Police, however, ignored or responded to him rudely, without providing specifics. Espino shook the cell’s grill in return, infuriating an officer who was on the reporting desk, another witness said.
The cop called for reinforcement and pulled Espino to the cell corridor. Brutalities started, ending in a lost life.
Espino murder outraged a community long hardened to police brutality. His family, and touts who worked with him for almost a decade, staged widespread protests.
IPOA, ODPP silent coverup
MUHURI filed the suit against Ibrahim and NPS under a certificate of urgency.
“There is silent coverup orchestrated by ODPP and IPOA intended to protect Ibrahim and other persons not before the court from being arraigned to answer to the charges of the offence of murder of Espino,” MUHURI says in the petition.
MUHURI says the DPP has failed to discharge his constitutional mandate.
IPOA, legally mandated to investigate police misconduct, completed a probe into Espino in-custody murder and submitted a file to the DPP on April 16, 2020, the Authority told MUHURI in an email. IPOA recommend murder a count, it said, but the DPP is yet to press charges.
But IPOA also delayed its investigation. The Authority took almost two years to forward Espino file to the DPP, despite having in their possession crucial documents that would have supported a successful conviction.
“There is a grave danger of a miscarriage of justice and blatant denial of justice to the victim’s family… Fanis Owendi (Espino mother) stands to suffer irreparable harm if appropriate action is not taken with a view of prosecuting Ibrahim,” MUHURI says in the petition.
Autopsy confirms homicide
A postmortem conducted on October 16, 2018, which was later backed by a detailed toxicology examination released on February 28, 2019, confirmed Espino’s death as a homicide.
MUHURI, IPOA and Espino family witnessed the autopsy by four doctors, who included the government’s chief pathologist, Johansen Oduor, and Emilly Odhiambo of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU).
The autopsy revealed Espino died of multiple injuries on the head, upper cervical spine of the neck and chest. There was a fracture due to blunt force trauma, bleeding within the brain, and injury to the upper spinal cord.
Pathologists saw bleeding into both sides of the lungs and the back. A rib on Espino’s left chest had a fracture. There was also a tear within one of his lungs.
Espino uncle, Geoffrey Okuyosi, said before the trial: “The family wants to know the police who murdered our son, watch them arraigned, charged, and convicted. We will only find closure after this.”
On February 23, 2020, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations rapporteur for extrajudicial executions, said Espino’s murder offered a ground for her to raise it internationally. The detective wanted the Kenyan government to allow more probes and prosecutions.