Inmate’s Death in Eldoret GK Prison Attributed to Oxygen Deprivation
A recent preliminary postmortem report conducted on the body of Oliver Ochieng, an inmate at Eldoret GK Prison, has shed light on the cause of his death.
The report, shared with family members, civil society representatives, Eldoret GK Prison officers, and the DCI, indicates that Ochieng succumbed to a lack of oxygen.
Disturbingly, defensive marks on his hands and fingernail discoloration were also observed during the examination, suggesting possible signs of asphyxia.
The postmortem was conducted at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, where these findings were unveiled.
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Human rights activists, spearheaded by organizations like Haki Africa and the Centre against Torture, have expressed concerns regarding the death of Ochieng. They claim that the Eldoret GK Prison intentionally attempted to conceal the truth, amid allegations that the deceased was subjected to assault by a prison warden.
Haki Africa CEO Khaleed Hussein verified these claims by confirming the findings of the autopsy report. The report also indicates the presence of a lung infection, potentially stemming from torture, as alleged by Ochieng’s family. According to their accounts, Ochieng was confined and subjected to the pouring of cold water.
“From the postmortem, we have established clearly that there were defence marks; this man was being tortured at the time near his death and you could see the marks visibly on the right arm,” Khaleed expalined.
“The doctor has also confirmed that there was asphyxia-from the fingers and the nails, you can tell there was lack of air that led to his death.”
“They have also confirmed there was an infection in the lungs; this story of being kept in confinment na kumwagiwa maji-the doctor is yet to confirm what caused the asphyxia.”
The deceased family also said that Ochieng was registered as an unidentified person at the MTRH morgue, despite Ochieng spending over a year in custody. This raises concerns about the handling of his case, as proper identification should have been ensured considering the extended duration of his detainment.
“I came to Eldoret yesterday after learning that my son was beaten and killed. So when I came and went to GK prison, they told me that he hit himself to the walls and that is why he died,” Ochieng’s father, Caleb Oyaro, said.
“After the postmortem, what we have seen today is defence marks everywhere on his hands and scratches. We are also told that he lacked oxygen and blood so we don’t know.”
Ochieng’s wife, Wanjiku, claims that she had a conversation with her husband on Monday. Ochieng disclosed receiving death threats from one of the prison wardens, who allegedly stated that he would only be released from prison in a lifeless state.
“He told me that there was a warden threatening him saying ‘atatoka kwa hio gate akiwa maiti.’ I asked him whether we should write a letter to have him transferred to another prison but he insisted there was no need since he would be leaving soon,” Wanjiku said.
“Ochieng called me on 29th when he was in court and told me that he would be freed on 12 since he has been arraigned severally with no witnesses availing themselves.
“On Friday, he called me and told me how after going back to prison he was happy and told his fellow inmates how he would be leaving on Monday. However, the same warden told him that he would only leave the prison when he is dead.”
Activists urged the government to prioritize the renovation of prisons and police stations by installing CCTV cameras.
“We want every prison in Kenya to have CCTV, even police stations so that we know what is happening. IPOA should also be given the mandate to prisons,” Kimutai Kirui an activist, said.
Haki Africa also urged the government to enhance the living conditions within prisons in order to ensure humane treatment of inmates and uphold their fundamental rights. They further appealed to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to expand their investigation to include the conduct of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers and County Askaris.
“CS Kithure Kindiki must do better to improve the prisons. These are not dungeons-they are not supposed to be torture cells. They are supposed to be correctional institutions where Kenyans are taken to be reformed and become good citizens of our country,” Khaleed said.
“We are also appealing to the state to expand the mandate of IPOA so that they can also cover issues of KWS, Prisons and county Askaris, particularly in Eldoret where County Askaris have been accused of high handedness, torture and even killing of street families.”