LONDON: A British court ruled on Friday that three elderly Kenyans who were tortured under British rule in the 1950s could pursue their claim for damages from London, a judgement likely to encourage other claims from victims of colonial-era brutality.
Britain, which had tried for three years to block their legal action, said it was disappointed and planned to appeal while lawyers for the claimants warned the ruling would be studied carefully by victims of other alleged colonial crimes.
Now in their 70s and 80s, the claimants suffered castration, rape and beatings while in detention during a ruthless crackdown by British forces and their Kenyan allies on rebels from the Mau Mau movement fighting for land and freedom.
The trio want Britain to apologise and to fund welfare benefits for Kenyan victims of torture by colonial forces. They were not in court on Friday to hear the ruling but were expected to speak at a news conference in Nairobi later.
Britain’s Foreign Office said it was disappointed and believed the judgement had potentially far-reaching legal implications.
The case stems from the so-called Kenyan ‘Emergency’ of 1952-1961, during which fighters from the Mau Mau movement attacked British targets, causing panic among white settlers and alarming the authorities in London.
Tens of thousands of rebels were killed by colonial forces and an estimated 150,000 Kenyans, many of them unconnected to the Mau Mau, were held in detention camps likened by a leading historian to Soviet gulag labour camps. (PTI)
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