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Police harass ‘Standard’ photographer during drug crackdown in Mombasa

david-kimaiyo_2A photojournalist with The Standard was on Saturday arrested for taking pictures of officers carrying out a swoop on drug peddlers in Mombasa’s Kisauni area.

During the arrest, Kevin Odit was beaten up by the officers who seized his camera and deleted the entire day’s work after arriving at a police station. The journalist was, however, released after Kisauni OCPD Mr Julius Wanjohi’s intervention following complaints from his colleagues.

Speaking after his release, Odit said angry officers subjected him to humiliation and harassment because he had taken a photograph of a police officer who was overpowered by one of the suspects.

“I got them in action as the officer holding a gun was fighting with a suspect who managed to escape after leaving him with his shirt,” said Odit.

The photojournalist complained that the officers in question were ‘mad’ at him because he had taken sequential pictures of the struggle between the officers and the suspected drug peddlers.

Frog marched

He complained that despite showing the officers his company identification card and one from theMedia Council of Kenya, the officers said they did not recognise the ID cards and frogmarched him to a waiting police lorry.

“I was forced to sit on a wet floor of the lorry with suspected drug peddlers despite the officers having seen my identification cards,” narrated Odit.

Coast provincial police boss Mr Aggrey Adoli regretted the incident and asked Odit to report the matter so that disciplinary action can be taken against the officers. Odit, who failed to report to work yesterday following the severe beating, was still in shock from the police assault.

“I was beaten several times as I tried to argue my case. They (police) even threatened me with serious charges,” he admitted.

Odit had just come from Milele Beach Hotel where Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho had launched the hotel’s Sh1.2 billion beach apartment project when he saw a commotion between police officers and the public.

Confronted

“I went out of the vehicle and spoke to one of the officers who informed me that they were arresting drug peddlers in the area,” said Odit.

“However, as I was taking photographs, some police officers confronted me over why I was taking their pictures. They grabbed me by my shirt and took hold of my company’s identity card and told me I was under arrest. They frogmarched me to the lorry as they kicked me,” said Odit.

Odit said the angry officers threw him into the lorry before slapping him as they drove to Nyali Police Station where they deleted the photographs he had taken.

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