Jerome Starkey, Africa Correspondent
The mother of a British aristocrat beaten to death in a Kenyan police station was met by a riot squad bearing rifles yesterday as she tried to place flowers on the spot where her son was fatally injured.
Hilary Monson’s son, Alexander, 28, suffered a blow to the head after he was arrested outside a nightclub in Diani, on the coast, last year. Police alleged that he had marijuana and took him to Ukundu police station. The next morning he was taken unconscious from the police station to Palm Beach hospital, where he died.
No one has been arrested and an official police inquiry cleared officers in the station of any blame for Mr Monson’s death.
Mrs Monson, who was divorced from her son’s father, now the 12th Baron Monson, in 1996, marked the first anniversary of the unsolved murder by scattering 365 roses between the police station and the hospital.
Paramilitary officers from the General Service Unit of the Kenyan police tried to block Mrs Monson, 59, as she approached the police station, but backed down amid anger from human rights groups.
Wearing a black dress with words, “A mother’s love never dies” printed in the local language, Mrs Monson laid a handful of red and white roses on the booking desk and pushed some through the grille on to the concrete floor where her son was discovered frothing at the mouth and unconscious.
“There are lots of people who suffer horrendous things in exactly the same way, but who don’t have a way to protest,” she said. “People just disappear, it happens all the time. I owe it to Alexander, and to the country, to stand up.”
Rights groups have accused the Kenyan police of killing with impunity. “They are getting away with murder,” said Khelef Khalifa, a director of Muhuri, a respected local rights group. “The police don’t obey the law, and they can’t investigate themselves.”
The police told hospital staff that Mr Monson had suffered a drugs overdose but two post-mortem examinations found no sign of substance abuse. They found that Mr Monson had massive trauma to the head and died of a brain clot. There was also abrasion to his arm, suggesting a struggle, and swelling in his groin.“The fact is he walked into the police station himself,” Mrs Monson, 59, said. “His condition, in the book, was described as normal. Then at 9 o’clock the next morning he was in a coma from which he never recovered … He was handcuffed to the bed where I watched him die.”
Yesterday two squads of the GSU also guarded the hospital where Mr Monson died. His mother said she was told they were “for my own protection”. She said the district police chief appealed for her to be patient, because the case was still being investigated. Mr Monson’s father has also vowed to seek justice for his son. Lord Monson, who lives in London, hired private investigators after Mr Monson died, and has said he has a “shrewd idea” of who dealt the fatal blows. (Read more…)