White Kenyan aristocrat jailed for murder

May 14th, 2009 - 6:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, May 14 (DPA) A white aristocrat descended from Kenya’s most prominent settler family was Thursday sentenced to eight months for the murder of a black poacher on his estate in 2006.
Thomas Cholmondeley, 40, was arrested in June 2006 and charged with murder after Robert Njoya, an unemployed stonemason who was poaching on the 50,000-acre Soysambu ranch in Kenya’s Rift Valley, died from a gunshot wound to his pelvic area.

The prosecution alleged that Cholmondeley, the great-grandson of a British peer who settled in Kenya in the late 19th century, had deliberately shot Njoya.

However, Judge Muga Apondi last Thursday ruled that malice aforethought could not be proven. The sentence was deferred for a week to allow mitigating circumstances to be pleaded.

The judge said that Cholmondeley’s conduct after he discovered he had shot Njoya helped prove that the shooting was unintentional and that the process of being arrested and tried had humbled the accused.

Following the shooting, Cholmondeley used his handkerchief as a tourniquet, called the police and arranged for Njoya to be taken to hospital.

Cholmondeley is expected to serve out the eight-month sentence in the grim Kamiti prison, where he has spent the last three years on remand.

Judge Apondi said he had not taken into account an offer by the Cholmondeley family to pay compensation to Njoya’s widow.

The case has attracted huge media attention and stirred up anti-colonial sentiment.

Apondi’s sentence was met by some angry protests in the courtroom. However, Njoya’s widow has said she forgives Cholmondeley.

It was the second time that Cholmondeley has been charged with murdering a black Kenyan. He escaped conviction in 2005 after an undercover Masai game ranger was shot dead on his estate.

That first acquittal sparked furious protests from local Masai leaders, who still harbour resentment about what they see as the theft of their land.

Thomas Cholmondeley’s great-grandfather, the third Baron Delamare, became one of the leaders of white British settlers and claimed huge swathes of land, including the Soysambu ranch.

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