“I have reached the conclusion … that a fair trial on this part of the case does remain possible and that the evidence on both sides remains significantly cogent for the court to complete its task satisfactorily,” McCombe said.
Assaulted and detained
The three claimants involved in yesterday’s historic ruling, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambuga Wa Nyingi, and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say they were violently assaulted during their detention by British forces ruling Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s.
They were interned during the Mau Mau rebellion, a revolt by mostly rural Kenyans against their imperial masters that led to thousands of arrests, detentions, and violent assaults on Kenyans. Thousands died.
Britain does not deny that its colonial officers "tortured" or "ill treated" Mr. Nzili, Mr. Wa Nyingi, and Ms. Mara. But all three are asking for an official apology from the British government and compensation for injuries they suffered, which includes lifelong complications that followed their abuse.
Martyn Day, the British lawyer representing the three Kenyans, called the court’s decision today “historic” and said it would “reverberate around the world.”
"There will undoubtedly be victims of colonial torture from Malaya to the Yemen from Cyprus to Palestine who will be reading this judgment with great care,” Mr. Day said.
“The British Government … has been hiding behind technical legal defenses for three years in order to avoid any legal responsibility,” Day said. “Following this judgment we can but hope that our government will at last do the honorable thing and sit down and resolve these claims.”
Room for appeal
Dozens of elderly Kenyans gathered at a Nairobi human rights organization’s office to hear the judgment today, and ululated, clapped, and danced when it was announced.