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UK to compensate tortured Kenyans

07 June 2013, 07:31

London - The British government on Thursday announced compensation for Kenyans abused during a rebellion against colonial rule in the 1950s.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons more than 5 200 Kenyans will be compensated in a package worth nearly £20m.

Hague said the government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other ill treatment that the "British government sincerely regrets." He said the British government understands the pain felt by Kenyans who were involved.

Several thousand now-elderly Kenyans say they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration trying to suppress the "Mau Mau" rebellion, during which groups of Kenyans attacked British officials and white farmers who had settled in some of Kenya's most fertile lands.

The settlements follow a ruling by Britain's High Court in October that three Kenyans could pursue compensation claims.

Martyn Day, a lawyer for the Kenyans, said he hopes Hague's statement will be "the final resolution of this legal battle that has been ongoing for so many years."

"The elderly victims of torture now at last have the recognition and justice they have sought for many years," Day added. "For them the significance of this moment cannot be overemphasised."

In Kenya, where there was a simultaneous announcement of the settlement, Nathan Kamothu — arrested in 1952 — said he was "very happy because we've succeeded".

He said there had been "a lot of trouble and torture brought to us by the colonial masters".

One older man grabbed a microphone and started singing as people waited for the official announcement in Nairobi. There were several dozen elderly Kenyans in attendance.

Francis Mutisi, assistant secretary general of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association, said the settlement has brought total jubilation.

"We are so happy today because the truth will be told worldwide," said Mutisi, 72, who was arrested while looking for a job and detained three weeks by the colonial government in Kenya.

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- AP

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