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On 3rd September 2000 six death row inmates held at Nyeri main prison were found dead. The six and two others were alleged to have attempted to escape from the prison on that material night when they met their death. It was alleged by the prison officials that the prisoners died while attempting to scale the perimeter wall of the prison which was approximately 24 feet. From the two who survived, one managed to escape but the other was recaptured in the nearby village. This case was highly publicized and the pressures from the civil society led to an inquiry into the death of the six inmates vide inquest No. 122 of 2000. The first postmortem was done by a government pathologist but through IMLU’s intervention independent post mortems were done by Dr. Mutuma and an external pathologist. The six bodies had been buried in a mass grave at Nyeri Public cemetery on 22/11/2000 but the bodies had to be exhumed for the independent postmortems to be conducted. The findings of the inquiry which was concluded on 8/2/2002 quashed the escape theory and stated that the prisoners met their death at the hands of the warders. The prison officials alleged that the inmates had escape through a grilled window of their cell after cutting the grills using a hacksaw but from the court’s findings, the inmates could not have managed to use that window as it was small and that the prisoners could not have accessed the tools to cut the said grill. The inmate who was left in cell block 8 the inmates used the door because when he woke up he found the cell door ajar. From the examination of the doctors who carried out the postmortems, the injuries sustained by the prisoners and the cause of death are inconsistent with the fall theory. The Court ordered fresh investigations on the death of the prisoners to be conducted. Accordingly, murder trail for nine prison officers were commenced where they were all found guilty and sentenced to hang on the 18th December 2008. However, five of them filed successful appeals but four of them had their appeal denied on the 13th April 2013. IMLU has since filed a constitutional case in the high court seeking a declaration that the right to life of the prisoners were violated and compensation to the kins of the deceased persons.


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