Torture Alleged In Kenya, Djibouti Cases
Feb. 18, 1991
LONDON (AP) _ Amnesty International is urging an investigation into allegations four political activists in Kenya were tortured, and a lawyer claims the group will probe charges of repression in the African country of Djibouti.
The four Kenya defendants are charged with holding an illegal meeting and possessing seditious material, including a copy of the London-based newsletter African Confidential. They each face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
All of the defendants testified they were tortured, according to the London-based human rights organization.
''The government's record of silencing critics by means of torture and unfair trials makes us fear that these four prisoners of conscience may soon be jailed for up to 10 years simply for peacefully expressing their views,'' Amnesty said in a statement.
Ngotho Kariuki, an accountant and former university dean, told the court in Nairobi that he was starved, beaten, held naked in a dark, flooded cell and forced to sign a false confession at gunpoint.
University professor Edward Oyugi testified he was severely beaten and denied prescription medicines, Amnesty reported.
The other defendants are Augustus Kathangu, a politician, and George Anyona, a political activist.
''As far as we know, no torture was involved,'' said a press officer for the Kenya Embassy. ''They were simply questioned.''
Amnesty spokesman Martin Hill said, ''We are appealing to the government to order an independent investigation and confirm that statements made under torture should not be admitted into evidence.''
The four men were among hundreds arrested in Nairobi last July after riots erupted when the government blocked a rally supporting the legalization of political parties. Most others arrested were released, but trial for the four began six weeks ago.
Kenya's constitution outlaws all political parties except the Kenya African National Union Party, headed by President Daniel arap Moi since 1978.
In the Djibouti case, a French lawyer representing a man jailed in an alleged plot to overthrow the government said Sunday that Amnesty will look into family members' allegations that suspects in the case were tortured.
Neither authorities of the former French colony or the French section of Amnesty were immediately available to confirm the report.
Attorney Jacques Verges is defending Ali Aref Bourhan, former president of the pre-independence Governing Council, whom authorities claim led an alleged coup attempt Jan. 8 in the Horn of Africa nation.
Aref Bhouran and the 34 other suspects, including nine army officers, belong to the Afar tribal group, which has long been at odds with the Issa group of President Hassan Gouled Aptidon.
They are charged with murder, attempted murder and attempting to destabilize the security of the state. No trial date has been set.
Afar leaders claim the arrests are part of the president's efforts to oppress them and purge Afars from the military and civil service.
Afars and Issas are the two main tribal groups in Djibouti and are about equally represented in the country's population of 400,000.