Alexander Monson, son of Lord Monson, died in 2012 after allegedly being beaten in a police cell
Alexander Monson. Two reports by government pathologists said he had died after sustaining a traumatic blow to the head. (David Crump/Daily Mail/Rex/Shutterstock)
By Peter Beaumont
Four Kenyan police officers will stand trial for murder after a judge ruled they had a case to answer in the death of the British aristocrat Alexander Monson, who died in 2012 a day after allegedly being beaten in a police cell.
The ruling, handed down by a high court judge in Mombasa, follows a years-long legal battle by his family after the 28-year-old died after he was arrested outside a nightclub at the Diani beach resort on suspicion of smoking cannabis.
While police claimed at the time he had died of a drug overdose, Monson’s family have long claimed he was in good health and had not been addicted to drugs at the time. They have fought for years to have those they believe to be responsible for his death brought to justice.
The officers – Naftali Chege, Charles Wangombe Munyiri, Baraka Bulima and John Pamba – were accused of killing Monson, the son of Lord Monson and heir to a family estate in Lincolnshire.
“The accused should tell the court what happened since the deceased was arrested in good health,” the judge, Erick Ogolla, ruled on Monday.
Two reports by government pathologists said Monson had died after sustaining a traumatic blow to the head. A subsequent toxicology report commissioned by the family suggested he had not taken drugs at the time of his death.
The case is being seen as a test of whether Kenya’s security services can be held accountable for the use of excessive force and extrajudicial killings.
The ruling on Monday ends a hiatus in the case that had prompted questions over whether it would go ahead. During an earlier inquest about 45 witnesses gave testimony amid evidence of attempts to cover up the incident and threats against witnesses.
Among the witnesses was the dead man’s mother, Hilary Monson, who said her son had been arrested after a night out with friends on suspicion of smoking bhang, a form of cannabis.
She testified that she was later told her son had been found on the floor of the police station convulsing, telling the inquest, which began in 2015, that she visited her son in hospital the following day where he was chained to a bed and was “having great difficulty breathing”.
An independent postmortem commissioned by the family found injuries to his scrotum, defence wounds to his arms and a serious injury to the back of his head.
This article was published by The Guardian.