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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 16:46 GMT
Death sentence for Ngugi attack
Ngugi wa Thiong'o and his wife
Ngugi wa Thiong'o had been in exile for 22 years
A Kenyan court has sentenced three security guards to death for attacking and robbing renowned Kenyan novelist and playwright, Ngugi wa Thiong'o.

His wife was also raped and burnt with cigarettes during the attack on the apartment in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

It took place in 2004 during Professor Ngugi's first public visit home after 22 years in self-imposed exile.

His nephew, John Kiragu Chege, accused of arranging and taking part in the attack, was cleared of the charges.

The BBC's Ruth Nesoba in Nairobi says that a death sentence has not been carried out in Kenya since coup plotters were hung in the 1980s.

The offence of robbery with violence is notorious in Nairobi
Magistrate Julie Oseko

However, she says the ruling might set a precedent for other sexual offences cases which in the past have not attracted such a stiff penalty.

Prof Ngugi's politically-charged writing led to his arrest in 1977 and he spent a year in detention without trial.

He fled the country to live in exile in 1982 after troops razed a theatre where one of his plays was being performed.

No political link

The guards were on duty at the high-security where Prof Ngugi and his wife were staying in central Nairobi on the night of the attack.

Penguin book cover of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's book Petals of Blood

The men were found guilty of raping Ngugi's wife, Njeeri, and robbing the couple of property worth $4,000.

"The offence of robbery with violence is notorious in Nairobi and must be discouraged by imposing stiffer penalties," principal magistrate Julie Oseko said when passing sentence.

Their lawyers say they will appeal against the conviction.

Ms Oseko ruled out political links to the now infamous 2004 attack despite earlier allegations by the professor.

Prof Ngugi lives in the United States where he teaches comparative literature.

After his novel, Petals of Blood, which was written in 1977, he gave up writing in English to write in Kikuyu.

Violent unrest - and international pressure - led to the restoration of multi-party politics in Kenya in the early 1990s.

Mwai Kibaki was elected as president in 2002, ending nearly 40 years of rule by the Kanu party.




SEE ALSO
Kenyan writer's wife was raped
16 Aug 04 |  Africa
Renowned Kenyan author attacked
12 Aug 04 |  Africa
Profile: Ngugi wa Thiong'o
12 Aug 04 |  Africa
Africa's 'best books' revealed
28 Feb 02 |  Entertainment

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