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Family of Kenyan Activist Whose Body Turned Up at Morgue Calls for Autopsy

NAIROBI – Family members and colleagues of a Kenyan activist known for denouncing extra-judicial killings whose body turned up at a morgue called for an autopsy on Wednesday because they do not believe the police version of what happened to her.

Caroline Mwatha’s body was found at a morgue Tuesday in the capital Nairobi after she went missing for a week. Police say the activist died after undergoing a failed abortion.

“We don’t buy the story that the police is telling us: it’s a made-up narrative to discredit Caroline and all human rights defendants in the country,” a colleague who works at the Dandora Community Justice Center in Nairobi told EFE on condition of anonymity.

According to activists who worked with Mwatha, the autopsy, which should have been conducted on Wednesday, would take place on Monday. Family and friends were optimistic it would take place Thursday.

Police say they have arrested six suspects over the case.

“We can’t know for sure what happened to her, but we find very weird the fact that they published the conclusion without having the postmortem results,” Mwatha’s colleague said. “There are lots of questions unanswered.”

Some relatives who saw her body said she had cuts to her face, neck and legs, according to the same source.

“All we want is justice. We are not going to let this go until we find justice, that’s why we ask for an independent investigation,” said the colleague.

In a statement, Wilfred Olal, a spokesperson and coordinator at the Community Justice Center, called for an independent autopsy to be carried out as soon as possible.

Police claim that Mwatha went to a Nairobi clinic on Feb. 6 for an abortion, five months into a pregnancy, and subsequently died as a result of the procedure, after which her body was taken to a morgue in a private vehicle a day later.

Among the arrested were the owner of the clinic, workers from the center, a driver and the activist’s supposed boyfriend who, according to the police, was the father of the unborn child.

Sources close to the activist say they do not know who these people are.

Mwatha went missing on Feb. 6 in the northeastern Nairobi suburb of Dandora after dropping her daughter off at school and running errands, Beth Mukami, one of the heads of the Community Justice Center, had told EFE on Monday.

In an interview with EFE in December, Mwatha said the center and its workers received systematic threats from the authorities aimed at forcing its closure.

Such centers, operating in marginal neighborhoods in the Kenyan capital, handle citizens’ complaints linked to extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, rapes, and violent situations, as well as provide legal support and psychological help to victims.


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