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Lawyer Alleges Torture in Treason Case

November 2, 1990

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ A lawyer for four Kenyans charged with treason today told a magistrate that they had been tortured while in custody.

The four, who include a former legislator and two lawyers, are charged with plotting the overthrow of President Daniel arap Moi’s one-party government, a crime punishable by death.

They were among suspected dissidents arrested following demonstrations urging democratic changes.

Koigi wa Wamwere, a former legislator, lawyers Mirugi Kariuki and Rumba Kinuthia, and Geofrey Kuga Kariuki ″have been subjected to torture and degrading and inhuman conditions″ since their arrest last month, lawyer John Khaminwa told the court. He did not provide specifics.

Magistrate Omondi Tunya ruled the torture claims could only be discussed in the High Court on Nov. 7 during the hearing of a previous plea by three defense lawyers. On Thursday, lawyers for three of the detainees asked the High Court to order prison authorities to permit them to see their clients.

The lawyers said officials at Kamiti prison in a Nairobi suburb prevented them and a doctor from seeing Wamwere and Mirugi Kariuki on Oct. 26.

Tunya agreed with the state attorney’s argument that the lawyers should arrange their intended visits to their clients well in advance with prison authorities.

The accused first appeared in court 10 days after their arrest Oct. 19. The government had earlier announced police seized machine guns and grenades Oct. 8 in arresting Wamwere.

Wamwere, a critic of the Kenyan establishment, had lived in self-exile in Norway since 1986 and belonged to an opposition underground group calling itself the Kenya Patriotic Front.

Kinuthia and Mirugi Kariuki practiced law. Geofrey Kariuki’s background was unknown.

On Oct. 22, Kenya broke diplomatic relations with Norway, accusing the Nordic nation of meddling in internal affairs by seeking to help Wamwere.

Norway did not protest Wamwere’s arrest, but it objected to Kenya’s refusal to allow Norwegian diplomats to check on his welfare or offer legal assistance.

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