Sentencing of convicted killer Thomas Cholmondeley, great-grandson of Kenya's most prominent early settler, took a bizarre turn this week when lawyers for Cholmondeley offered compensation to his victim's widow in return for his freedom.
The White Kenyan aristocrat had been found guilty by the Nairobi High Court of manslaughter in the death of Robert Njoya, 37, an alleged poacher, on his estate in 2006. Since the death of Njoya, his 31-year-old widow, Serah, has struggled to raise their four sons on her meager earnings selling vegetables.
After the hearing, she said she would be happy with a ruling which guaranteed her fi nancial security and allowed Cholmondeley to walk free after 1,097 days in jail.
Chief prosecutor Keriako Tobiko cautioned that court to remember the seriousness of the offence, the nature of the victim's injuries, and the fact that he had died from a bullet fi red by Cholmondeley's highvelocity rifl e. Manslaughter normally carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
One year prior, Cholmondelay admitted shooting another man – Maasai ranger Samson Ole Sisina – but the case was dropped for lack of evidence, provoking outrage and mass protests in the Maasai community.
The end of the three-year trial has provoked fi erce debate among ordinary Kenyans and the country's small community of whites descended from the original British settler families, and the colonial-era High Court has been packed with television crews, Cholmondeley's family and friends, Njoya's relatives and dozens of onlookers.