Kenyans hail right to sue Britain

2011-07-22 07:53
Nairobi - Kenyan veterans of the 1950s Mau Mau uprising celebrated on Thursday after four colleagues won court approval in Britain to sue the British government over brutality they claim they suffered in the struggle.

"For a very long time we have remained steadfast in our pursuit for justice, for the torture we suffered under the British government," said Gitu Kahengeri, the secretary general of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association.

"With today’s ruling we are happy that there is light at the end of the tunnel," Kahengeri told journalists.

The claimants - Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, who are in their 70s and 80s - are calling for an apology and a victims' welfare fund.

The test case could open the door for claims from around 1 000 others still alive who survived the detention camps during the bloody rebellion against British colonial rule.

"As we move forward we hope that we will have an opportunity to discuss the ways of settling our case as soon as possible," Kahengeri added.

"We are afraid that if the British government continues to deny us justice based on mere technicalities then most of us will not be able to be there to witness justice, if and when it finally comes."

The Foreign Office contends Britain is not legally liable for the alleged abuses, which include castration and torture, saying responsibility was transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.

More than 10 000 people were killed during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising, with some figures going much higher.

The case will proceed to a further hearing, due before April 2012, at which the court will consider the government's argument that the claims should not proceed to trial as they have been brought outside the legal time limit.

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