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Kisilu Mutua
"I felt they were going to kill me"
 real 28k

Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Kenyan freed after 35 years
Kisilu Mutua
Kisilu Mutua - a happy man
A man accused of the murder of Pio Gama Pinto - one of the few Asians involved in Kenya's independence struggle - has been set free 35 years after he was sent to prison.


That's the gift of the century, man! That's the joy of my life. It's a miracle!

Kisilu Mutua's lawyer
Kisilu Mutua was pardoned by President Daniel Arap Moi after a campaign by his family, lawyer and pressure groups.

He told the BBC that he was not responsible for the 1965 murder of Mr Pinto - and he had no idea who was.

BBC correspondent Joseph Warungu says that at the time of his murder, Mr Pinto had been treading on sensitive government toes by asking about alleged corruption.

Missing money

Just two months before he was shot dead, Mr Pinto had questioned the government over claims that British money meant to buy off white settlers in the Rift Valley had gone missing.

Although he was an MP from the ruling KANU party, Pinto became a constant thorn in the flesh of Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta.

Eight other long-serving prisoners were released along with Mutua.

His lawyer, Hezekiah Abuya, was overjoyed: "That's the gift of the century, man! That's the joy of my life. It's a miracle!"

Daniel Arap Moi
Daniel Arap Moi pardoned Mutua

Mr Abuya made his most recent request for Mutua's release just 10 days ago - to Kenya's Attorney General on the United Nations Day in Support of Torture Victims.

Mutua told the East African Standard newspaper that he had been framed by a white judge after being tortured by the police and forced to sign a confession.

He was initially given a death sentence but this was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Both the Release Political Prisoners and the People Against Torture pressure groups had also campaigned for Mutua and other prisoners to be set free.

Mysterious circumstances

Mutua's release has brought to the surface cases of other key Kenyan figures who have died in mysterious circumstances.

Prominent among them was the popular labour minister Tom Mboya, who was gunned down in 1969.

Six years later a fearless critic of the Kenyatta government, JM Kariuki, was murdered.

In 1990 Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister, Robert Ouko, went missing and his charred body was recovered a few days later in a bush near his home.

Correspondents say all were either too popular for the government's comfort or too critical.

Their killers have never been found.

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