A Kenyan court on Monday found police acted unlawfully over the killing of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in 2022 following a complaint by his widow, her lawyer and local media said.

Sharif, an ardent supporter of former premier Imran Khan, was shot in the head when Kenyan police opened fire on his car in October 2022. He had left Pakistan in August 2022 after multiple cases of sedition were registered against him in different cities. It was reported that he initially stayed in the United Arab Emirates after leaving Pakistan and later went to Kenya, where he was murdered.

His widow Javeria Siddique and two journalist groups in Kenya filed a complaint last year against top police and legal officials over the “arbitrary and unlawful killing” of Sharif and the respondents’ “consequent failure to investigate”.

On Monday, the High Court in Kajiado, a town south of Nairobi, rejected a police claim that the killing was a case of mistaken identity, and that officers’ believed they were firing on a stolen vehicle involved in an abduction.

Judge Stella Mutuku ruled that Sharif’s murder was unconstitutional and that his rights to life and protection were violated, Kenyan media said.

“I find that the respondents, jointly and severally through their actions violated the rights of the petitioners,” Mutuku said, according to The Nation.

Siddique’s lawyer Ochiel Dudley confirmed the court ruling to AFP, describing it as a “great precedent for police accountability”.

He said the ruling found “Kenya violated Arshad Sharif’s right to life, dignity, and freedom from torture, cruel, and degrading treatment”.

He said the court ordered the government to pay 10 million Kenyan shillings (Rs21.7 million) in compensation.

The Kenyan court said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Independent Policing Oversight Authority had violated Sharif’s rights by not prosecuting the two officers involved, Dudley added.

It ordered the two institutions to conclude their investigations and charge the two police officers, he said.

In a post on X, Siddique said: “Me and all of you have won Arshad Sharif’s case in Kenya.”

In a video statement, she lamented that no one had supported her in her effort apart from the nation and some journalist associations.

“Thank you for all the strength you give us with your comments,” she said, adding that it was necessary to do all she did to set an example that journalists could not be wantonly killed or harassed.

Siddique said she had gotten justice from Kenya but it still remained to be given in Pakistan.

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