Govt Loses Multi-Million Case Against 284 Kenya Air Force Officers After Decade Struggle


The office of the Attorney General has been ordered to pay damages amounting to millions of shillings to aggrieved officers who served within the Kenya Air Force.

In a ruling on Friday, November 24, a three-judge bench at the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the state contesting an award given to the 284 officers by the Environment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC).

In the appeal, the officers, who had been listed as the respondents in the case, pleaded for full retirement benefits, and terminal benefits.

“The learned Judge, after finding that the respondents had proved their case to the required standard, directed the appellant to disclose the amount owed to each respondent, failing which he would use what the respondents presented as their dues,” read the ruling in part.

Entrance to Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi.

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The Judiciary of Kenya

“The appellant failed to produce the schedule of the dues as directed by the learned Judge. The learned judge pronounced his judgment on quantum by considering the schedule presented by the respondents as to what the appellant owed them as full retirement benefits and/or terminal benefits.”

In an earlier ruling of the case, delivered in 2016, the ELRC awarded each of the officers Ksh1 million in aggravated damages for wrongful imprisonment, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and violation of their right to a fair hearing.

The officers were also eligible for pensions, salary arrears as well as the costs of the suit.

In their initial suits, the officers had lamented that they had served within the Kenya Airforce between 1964 and 1983 before they were accused of participating in the 1982 coup to topple then-President Daniel Moi.

They argued that their services were terminated after they were accused of belonging to a group christened “82 Air Force”.

They further complained that while in prison custody at Kamiti and Naivasha, they were tortured, beaten, stripped naked, and sustained permanent physical injuries. They, as a result, demanded damages.

In the latest ruling, some of the individuals were awarded amounts as high as Ksh15 million. An individual court Ksh10 million while others received between Ksh 1 million and Ksh8 million.

“The appellant (Office of the Attorney General headed by Justin Muturi) had the opportunity to present their dues schedule to the court to be considered. The fact that they failed to do so cannot be used as a ground for an appeal herein. We do not think that the amount awarded by the learned Judge was based on the wrong principle or was inordinately too high to invite this Court to interfere with the same. Accordingly, we see no reason to interfere with the same and uphold the trial court’s awards as granted,” ruled the Court of Appeal.

“In the result, we find that this appeal has no merit and dismiss it. The order that commends itself to us is that each party will bear its own costs of the appeal.”

The ruling follows another in 2018 that awarded the former servicemen a total amount of Ksh500 million for their torture.

Photo of Attorney General Justin Muturi During his Coronation

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KNA





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