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Report Identifies Causes of Deaths During Kenya's Post-Election Violence

In Kenya, talks to settle the post-election political crisis resume Monday with some immediacy to find a political settlement. President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement have reportedly agreed in principle on the creation of the posts of prime minister and two deputies. There has been no agreement on both sides having equal number of cabinet positions in the proposed grand coalition government.

Meanwhile, a report on what might have caused the deaths of most the over thousand people killed during the post-election violence was released yesterday Sunday in Nairobi. The report was compiled by the Independent Medico-Legal Unity and Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice. Samuel Mohochi is executive director of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit. He told VOA that close to 50 percent of the deaths were caused by gun-related injuries.

“We were actually involved in 80 post mortems drawn from almost 67 towns and cities and related to people between the ages of 12 years to 84 years. One of the most glaring findings was that 43 percent of the causes of death were actually occasioned by firearms-related injuries and 67 percent were deaths occasioned by crude weapons. We also had 50 percent of findings related to people below the ages of 40 years, while people below the ages of 60 year were only nine percent. In Western Kenya we had 91 percent of people dying of gunshot injuries,” he said.

Mohochi said the study was conducted in cooperation with medical practitioners, including pathologists.

“How we usually operate includes first receiving complaints from family members of the deceased persons, obtaining informed consent from family members, recording witness statements where possible and arranging for the post mortem itself. In these instants we used eight pathologists to conduct 80 post mortems. Even when doing the post mortem itself, we liaise with the local hospital if there if at all there is a local doctor there who can be present just to witness,” Mohochi said.

He said the report came up with a number of recommendations, including a call for an investigation into the causes of deaths.

“The first major recommendation is that a proper and thorough investigation should be done to fully document all cases of death because we also came across instances where people were getting buried unconventional ways without being taken through the legal system. We found people getting buried in mass graves and big latrines, and these were not being reported to the authorities,” he said.

Mohochi also said the report has recommended that perpetrators of human rights violation should not be allowed to escape justice.

“One of the other finds is that we are saying that no perpetrator should be let free or immunized with the ongoing mediation talks, and that whatever investigation should be done in view of accessing justice to families of victims it should underpinned in the agreement emerging from the mediation talks. And that also family members of deceased persons are entitled to adequate compensation,” Mohochi said.