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Lawyers challenge Kenyan death sentence

Leigh Day have written to the Head of the Metropolitan Police on behalf of a 35 year old Kenyan man sentenced to death in Kenya

Posted on 25 May 2014

Law firm Leigh Day have written to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of London's Metropolitan Police Service, on behalf of a 35 year old Kenyan man sentenced to death in Kenya, on the basis of an investigation and prosecution aided by UK authorities.

Mr Ali Babitu Kololo, an illiterate 35-year-old father of two and a member of the minority Boni tribe, was arrested in September 2011 and charged with the offences of ‘robbery with violence’ and ‘kidnapping in order to murder.’

Under Kenyan law, the former offence carries a mandatory sentence of death by hanging. Judith and David Tebbutt had been staying at the holiday resort Kiwayu Safari Village on the Kenyan coast near the Somali border.

Early in the morning on 11 September 2011 they were attacked in their bungalow. David Tebbutt was shot and killed by the attackers.

Mrs Tebbutt was kidnapped and taken by boat to Somalia. She was held hostage for six months before being released.

Ms Tebbutt confirmed that Mr Kololo was not amongst the men who entered the bungalow, shot her husband and then abducted her.

Mr Kololo was accused by the Kenyan prosecutors of leading the attackers to the camp and helping them identify the only occupied bungalow. At trial, Mr Kololo was unrepresented until after the close of the prosecution case.

He was convicted on 29 July 2013, on the basis of evidence which Mr Kololo’s lawyers have called circumstantial.

Mr Kololo was sentenced to death the same day. Mr Kololo remains on death row in the high-security Shimo La Tewa GK Prison in Mombasa, Kenya.

A UK team from the Metropolitan Police apparently led by Detective Superintendent Neil Hibberd of the Metropolitan Police (DCI Hibberd) provided written witness statements and oral evidence at Mr Kololo’s trial.

In the letter before action sent to Mr Hogan Howe, Leigh Day, the law firm acting alongside the human rights charity, Reprieve, argue that this support provided by the British authorities to the prosecution in Mr Kololo’s case was unlawful.

They claim it runs counter to the UK’s abolitionist stance on the death penalty and breaches the UK’s government’s obligations under the Human Rights Act.

They also argue that the UK officials involved in the prosecution of Mr Kololo acted in breach of the common law principles of fairness and natural justice.

Rosa Curling from Leigh Day said:

“The UK government has a clear policy of opposing the death penalty in all circumstances as matter of principle. Despite this, members of the UK’s Metropolitan Police, paid for by UK tax money, appear to have travelled to Kenya to provide one-sided evidence in our client’s trial, a trial which fell woefully short of international human rights standards.

"While the assistance of the UK authorities in the investigation of the tragic death of Mr Tebbutt and kidnap of Mrs Tebbutt could have been entirely appropriate in principle, that assistance should have only been provided in a fair manner and on the condition that the death penalty would not be sought by the Prosecutor.”