PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Law enforcement officers sentenced to life imprisonment for poaching
Nairobi – August 22, 2019: Four Administration Police Officers were last week convicted to life imprisonment or pay a fine of not less than 20 million shillings ($200,000) each for being in possession of a wildlife trophy without a permit.
The four law enforcement officers, Stephen Ngawai, Martin Mwiti, Francis Karanja and Peter Kuria Kimungi were arrested on February 29th 2016 at Nairobi West Shopping Centre, Nairobi County following intelligence report by Kenya Wildlife Service officers. They were found in possession of one piece of raw elephant tusk weighing 5kgs. On March 1st 2016 they were arraigned in court and awarded a cash bail of Ksh 250,000 ($2500).
At the time of their arrest, the four were serving as Administrative Police Officers in various high level government offices.
“This is one of the very few cases in which officers of the law have been convicted of wildlife crimes. Many cases involving government officials over the last few years have been lagging in the Courts. This problem has repeatedly been raised by WildlifeDirect,” stated Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Chief Executive Officer at WildlifeDirect.
Over the past 3 years, WildlifeDirect, through its groundbreaking Eyes in The Courtroom, has identified 18 cases where 24 law enforcement officers have been directly involved and arrested for perpetrating wildlife offences and consequently charged with various offences.
In July, WildlifeDirect followed the case of Thomas Simiyu Lukurito, a former law enforcement officer who was arrested in December 2017 for being in possession of two ivory tusks without a permit. If convicted, Lukurito will be liable to a fine of not less than Ksh 1 million ($10,000) and or receive imprisonment of not less than 5 years.
Law enforcement agencies in Kenya are responsible for enforcing the Wildlife Act and it is of grave concern when sworn law enforcement officers use the authority of their position to engage in crime for personal gain. “Corruption is a major challenge for wildlife law enforcement in Kenya and across Africa. Deterring offenders is key – officers of the law should know better, and they should be setting an example. This is why they should meet the most severe penalty”, said Dr. Paula Kahumbu.
WildlifeDirect commends Magistrate Jane Kamau of Kibera Law Courts for holding the Administrative Police Officers on account of their misgivings. We also recognize the great work done by Kenya Wildlife Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) and the Judiciary on diligent investigations and successful prosecution of this case. We continue to follow related cases from the plea dates until their conclusion.
For more information, please contact:
Trish Sewe – Head of Communications, WildlifeDirect
+254 (0) 705 515 709