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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK
Mau Mau veterans seek UK damages
Kenyan demonstrators
Mau Mau war veterans claim they were tortured
Veterans of Kenya's independence war with Britain 50 years ago have filed a formal claim for compensation against the British government.

The case has been brought by six former Mau Mau fighters who say they were subjected to inhuman treatment in British-run detention camps.

Their lawyers plan to give Whitehall four months to respond before taking the case to the High Court in London.

Claims are also being pursued in Kenya by up to 2,000 more Mau Mau detainees.

The six former Mau Mau fighters say they were subjected to inhuman treatment including beatings, denial of food and suspension by the feet.

Crackdown

"It is right that the British Government should accept responsibility for the devastation of these Kenyan lives and should pay compensation for what they went through," solicitor Martyn Day said.

A British Foreign Office spokesman said the government understood that the emergency period prior to independence had caused pain to many people.

But he said Britain and Kenya were now international partners and should look to the future.

Mau Mau veteran Mucheke Kioru, 75, remembers being held in a detention camp
Mau Mau veterans are now in their 70s and 80s

If the claimants do not get a satisfactory response, the case will be taken to the High Court in London where it can be expected to be heard late next year or early in 2008, said Mr Day.

The Mau Mau movement undoubtedly contributed to Kenya achieving independence in 1963, says the BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi.

It started in the European-owned farmlands in the Kenyan highlands in 1952.

Mau Mau fighters launched attacks on white settlers, spreading terror through the white farming community.

By 1960, the uprising had been decisively put down by the British colonial government.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission says 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the crackdown, and 160,000 were detained in appalling conditions.

An official report in 1961 determined that more than 11,000 Africans, most of them civilians, and 32 whites died during that period.


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