The ruling is likely to cause a series of lawsuits – an estimated 2,000 Kenyans are expected to claim damages – and to have far reaching legal implications on other alleged abuses by British forces in various countries in the colonial era.
The British government, while acknowledging the abuses and apologising for the torture suffered by the trio, has long tried to avert a trial by claiming that the legal time limit for a fair trial has long expired and that the responsibility had passed to Kenya upon its independence in 1963. Both arguments were rejected. The government’s lawyers will appeal the judgement due to its “potentially significant and far reaching legal implications”.
The judge has decided that a fair trial remains possible and that enough evidence has been collected; in particular, the thousands of documents found in a secret Foreign Office archive containing files from dozens of former colonies.