19 November 2012

Kenya: Ex-Pathologist Recalls Frustrations

Former Chief Government Pathologist Moses Njue says there are serious challenges that hamper forensic investigations in the country, sometimes leading to weak or tampered evidence.

Capital FM News caught up with Njue who is now the Chief Executive Officer of Kings Medical College in Nyeri as he recounts his tribulations of working as the government's chief pathologist.

He described Kenya's forensic investigations as dismal due to poor capacity worsened by disorganisation as forensic services are spread across government departments without central coordination.

"There is an overlap and coordinating relevant parties is difficult without the point of reference. I have no control over the Judiciary, government chemist, prosecution and police yet we are supposed to produce results together," he decried.

According to him, his office was not allocated proper resources to support its operations.

"I had no vehicles to go to work that the judges have, that the police have, yet I was a chief advisor on forensic matters. It is a like having a vehicle that has three very good tyres but without the fourth tyre," he complained.

The 51-year-old Njue is distressed that many court cases end up being thrown out or concluded wrongly due to lack of evidence.

This not only hinders justice but also causes harm for the innocent who find themselves behind bars while real criminals walk freely courtesy of poor forensic investigations.

"Defence takes advantage of these gaps and scuttles court cases. Many murderers are out there when they should be in jail. Unfortunately innocent people end up being locked up. It is a double sword - if you have murderers out there it means there are innocent people in jail," Njue explains.

He wishes that the government will fast track a bill expected in Parliament to coordinate forensic departments in the country to ensure crimes are well investigated so that court cases are not wrongly determined due to lack of proper evidence.

Njue was appointed chief government pathologist in 2004.

Inspired by his quest for the truth, he ran into problems with the Health Ministry in 2003 which saw him suspended for several months.

"I had a big problem with government in 2003. The government had illegally suspended and dismissed me. I sued it and the health ministry thought it was good we reconcile. I spoke to the then Health Minister Charity Ngilu then I was reinstated," he recalls.

He continues, "I felt that part of my life had been stolen after they dismissed unceremoniously and jailed me several times. I felt I needed to go and finish what I thought I had not finished. We reached an agreement and I went back... but then I had a short time."

The father of two again ran into trouble during the Sinai fire tragedy that claimed over a 100 lives after he protested against planned mass burial for the victims by the government.

"I was almost jailed because of the Sinai matter. The government wanted to bury them in a mass grave. I said it would have legal implications. Look how we are grappling with the Wagalla massacre now trying to get identification of those killed," he explains.

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