Young British aristocrat Alexander Monson was ‘unlawfully killed’, his family claimed as the inquest into his death re-opened in Mombasa after a 13-month delay yesterday.
The 28-year-old son of British peer Lord Nicholas Monson died in police custody in May 2012 from blunt force trauma to the head after he was stopped in a car outside a nightclub in the Kenyan beach resort of Diani.
The inquest heard that police made no effort to establish whether Mr Monson was responsible for cannabis found in the car. Not only was he not seen smoking marijuana by officers involved in the case, but there were three other passengers in the car.
Speaking before Senior Principal Magistrate Richard Odenyo yesterday, arresting officer PC William Serem told the hearing he only saw his commanding officer Corporal Naftali Chege brandishing a half-lit joint and claiming he had snatched it from Mr Monson.
“I did not see Alexander smoke bhang. I did not see my colleague Corporal Naftali Chege snatch the cannabis from his mouth. What I know is that Corporal Chege told me that he found Alexander smoking bhang.
“There were four occupants in the car, one asleep in the co-driver’s seat.
“Two passengers alighted while Corporal Chege was talking to Alexander.” – PC William Serem
Serem’s testimony contradicts a previous claim by fellow policeman Corporal Naftali Chege, who testified last year that Mr Monson was arrested while smoking marijuana. Constable Serem claims he only heard of the marijuana claim from Mr Chege.
Following his arrest, Alexander was detained at Diani Police Station where he fell ill. He was taken to hospital where he died while chained to a bed under armed police guard.
The postmortem into his death established that he died from heavy trauma to the back of the head, suspected to have been caused by a gun butt. An injury to his scrotum was also found.
Police claimed they found banned drugs and prescription medicine on his body, a claim denounced by his father as a fabrication designed to “defame (his) son” and cover up the death.
Lord Monson has alleged his son died from torture or medical negligence.
In a previous testimony, Monson accused Chege, who according to PC Serem was left alone in the office with his son while processing his arrest, of concealing the actual cause of death. He claimed his son was murdered and considered Chege and other officers as prime suspects. But last, Chege denied the claim and insisted Alexander might have died from drug intoxication.
Addressing the hearing, Monson family lawyer Alfred Olaba said: “What you are saying is the fate of Alexander is clearly in the hands of Chege.”
Mr Monson’s mother, Hilary, watched PC Serem give testimony on the details of her son’s final hours from a back bench at Mombasa High Court, in the resumption of a drawn-out inquest that has lasted more than five years.
After watching PC Serem give his testimony, Alexander’s mother Hilary, said :”This is the first time I have actually been able to hear this. The police need to know that they destroy lives.”
Iain Daniels, a British lawyer advising the Monson family, said: “The evidence of unlawful killing is indisputable. We have come some way today to establish who had access to Alexander and when.”
The inquest continues.