Sharp focus has been drawn to Kenya’s paramilitary police wing, the General Service Unit (GSU), whose officers are accused of killing prominent Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Nairobi one year ago. The current case has been jointly filed by the journalist’s widow Javeria Siddique, and two journalist unions.
The tragedy unfolded on October 23, 2022, when Sharif was in a car with another Pakistani individual who accelerated through a roadblock checkpoint on the outskirts of Nairobi, prompting the police to open fire.
At the time, Nairobi police expressed remorse over the shooting, characterizing it as a “mistaken identity” during a search for a similar vehicle linked to a child abduction case.
The 50-year-old journalist had fled Pakistan earlier that year to evade arrest on charges of criticizing Pakistan’s governance institutions, a phrase commonly associated with critics of the powerful military, which has a significant influence over the country’s history.
Sharif briefly resided in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom before relocating to Kenya.
However, a Pakistani investigative team later contended that Sharif’s killing was a “planned assassination.” In response, his widow, Javeria Siddique, initiated legal proceedings against the GSU.
While Kenyan police said that Sharif had failed to stop at the roadblock, the family and Pakistani investigators held a different view, alleging that Sharif’s assassination was orchestrated in Pakistan. Pakistani officials have denied any involvement.
Siddique, in an interview with The Associated Press, stated, “I am suing the GSU because they committed the crime openly. For me, it was a targeted assassination because he was living in hiding in Kenya after receiving threats in Pakistan.”
This high-stakes trial is currently taking place at the Kajiado High Court on the outskirts of Nairobi, with the Kenya Union of Journalists and the Kenya Correspondents joining Siddique as co-plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs’ submission to the court asserts that Kenyan authorities have “failed to prosecute officers involved in the wrongful death of Arshad” and calls for “a public apology to the family of Sharif.”
Ochiel Dudley, the attorney representing Shariff’s widow, affirmed his legal team’s commitment to helping the family seek justice within the Kenyan legal system.
In a parallel development, police in Islamabad have charged two Kenyan-based Pakistani businessmen, who had hosted Sharif in East Africa, with involvement in his killing.
An investigator’s report obtained by The Associated Press disclosed contradictory statements issued by Kenyan police following the killing.