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Outrage in Kenya over Murder Sentence

A Kenyan judge has sentenced the grandson of an English baron to eight months in prison for killing a black man on his farm. Thomas Cholmondeley was convicted of shooting 37-year-old Robert Njoya in 2006.

The sentence has created outrage in Kenya because it is a much lower penalty than the maximum he could have faced -- life in prison. David Ohito is asenior political editor at the Kenyan daily the East African Standard.

From the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he told VOA that a number of people on the streets were not happy with the (court) decision to hand Cholmondeley only another eight months in jail. “There was a mixed reaction in Nairobi. People are saying Kenyans have been reduced to dogs – you can shoot them at will. “

He said Kenyan law seems to treat people differently, “When there is [one] law for the rich and another for the poor you get results like we got today.”

Ohito said this is not the first time Cholmondeley has shot and killed someone. “There is another killing that happened about three years ago. He (Cholmondeley) shot and killed a Kenya wildlife ranger. Interestingly even in that case he ‘was let off the hook,’” said Ohito.

He added that people are beginning to wonder whether it is the prosecution system that is broken or those with money can kill and get away with it, adding, “This is the question for our judiciary that is riddled with corruption and incompetence.”

Ohito noted that the judge said since Cholmondeley has already been in jail for three years already he will serve another eight months; that means in our law he will only serve another four months. He will be out before Christmas.”

Ohito expressed doubt that the appeal by the prosecution will succeed since the widow seems to be content with the compensation promised her by Cholmondeley. Given the levels of poverty, the bereaved family may accept some little money as compensation.”