NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan opposition politician said on Thursday he was beaten and drugged by officials then deported despite a court order to free him, in the latest twist of a legal tussle that has been condemned by rights groups.
Miguna - who holds dual Canadian citizenship - and his lawyer said was put on a flight to Dubai late on Wednesday two days after he was detained arriving at Nairobi’s main airport. The interior ministry said it would comment later.
The reports come as a particularly sensitive time in Kenya as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his opposition rival Raila Odinga have been trying to settle months of turmoil since contested elections in October.
The standoff over Miguna, a member of the opposition, risks reigniting tensions and has already set Kenya’s government on a collision course with the judiciary.
Kenya’s interior minister and police chief were found guilty of contempt of court on Wednesday and fined a day later for ignoring a judge’s order to free Miguna.
High court judge George Odunga said on Thursday both men had “conducted themselves in a most despicable manner not expected in this constitutional era” - an unprecedented rebuke of such senior figures.
Miguna was originally arrested after he appeared at a staged “swearing-in” ceremony of opposition leader Raila Odinga in January - an event meant as a public challenge to Kenyatta.
He was deported in February as a “prohibited immigrant” - the authorities said he had lost Kenyan nationality under a now-defunct law.
A court then ruled he should be allowed back with his Kenyan citizenship reinstated, but he was detained again when he arrived in Nairobi’s main airport on Monday, he and his lawyer said.
A court ordered his release and then, when his detention continued, found both Interior minister Fred Matiang’i and police inspector general Joseph Boinnet guilty of contempt of court, then fined them each 200,000 Kenyan shillings ($1,985) for ignoring its ruling.
The minister would appeal, his spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from the police.
Hours after the court ruling, Miguna was placed on an Emirates flight to Dubai, his lawyer said - the second time he has been deported this year.
On Thursday, the politician said he had been dragged, assaulted and drugged during the forced deportation. “I’m sick. I need medical treatment ... I need urgent help here,” he said on Twitter.
The ministry had denied that Miguna was being held illegally this week and said he had failed to follow arrival procedures when he landed in Kenya.
Veteran anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo said: “The flagrant defiance of court orders by various branches of government is a setback for our institutions, which were maturing and gaining some independence after the passage of our new constitution in 2010.”
Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Additional reporting by Maggie Fick; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Elias Biryabarema, John Stonestreet and Andrew Heavens