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Kenyans to Sue Britain Over Torture Claim


(L to R) The Kenya Human Rights commission official Muthoni Wanyeki, the Mau Mau war veterans association spokesman, Gitu wa Kahengeri, the association's Deputy Secretary Augustine Kamunde and assistant secretary general Francis Mutiso take part in a news

(L to R) The Kenya Human Rights commission official Muthoni Wanyeki, the Mau Mau war veterans association spokesman, Gitu wa Kahengeri, the association's Deputy Secretary Augustine Kamunde and assistant secretary general Francis Mutiso take part in a news

Four Kenyans, three men and one woman, plan to take legal action against the British government over alleged colonial-era atrocities. Britain's High Court ruled Thursday that the elderly Kenyans can sue over alleged torture by British authorities committed during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s.

It was a victory on Thursday for four Kenyans who won the right to sue the British government, but the ruling is only the beginning.

A judge ruled that the Kenyans have an "arguable case" and that a full trial will be needed to find out the facts.

But the judge emphasized that his ruling did not mean there had been systematic torture or that the British government is liable.

Paolo Nzili, 83, is one of the claimants. Nzili says he was castrated, humiliated, beaten, and now has no family of his own. He says he's bitter, but happy that the High Court has accepted the case so that the four can sue for compensation.

Money is what he needs, he says, to compensate for the fact that he's never had a family - something he says has tormented him all his life.

The four elderly Kenyans say they were systematically tortured in camps set up in the 1950s to crush the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule.

The British Foreign Office says it is not responsible. It says responsibility for abuse was transferred to Kenya at independence in 1963.

"We are absolutely delighted and we are happy that the verdict came out the way it came, because for us that's a real opportunity, a real opportunity for these men and women who suffered despicable acts of torture, to be heard, and we are calling upon the British government to really move with speed now and stop invoking other technicalities like limitations, and really settle this case," said George Morara, the Program Officer at the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

The four claimants are in their 70s and 80s. Another claimant died in 2009.

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