Three elderly Kenyans have won an historic legal victory over the British government after the high court gave them permission to claim damages for the grave abuses they suffered when imprisoned during the Mau Mau rebellion.
The court rejected the government's claim that too much time had elapsed for there to be a fair trial, just as it threw out an earlier claim that the Mau Mau veterans should be suing the Kenyan government, not the British.
The three suffered what their lawyers describe as "unspeakable acts of brutality", including castration, beatings and severe sexual assaults.
The British government's lawyers have accepted that all three were tortured by the colonial authorities, so even though the case now has to go to a full trial, it is expected to be settled promptly with the payment of damages.
However, an estimated 2,000 other Kenyans – the survivors of more than 70,000 Mau Mau suspects who were imprisoned during the seven-year insurgency in the 1950s – are now expected to come forward to sue the British government.
Many more men and women around the world who were imprisoned and allegedly mistreated during the conflicts that often accompanied the British retreat from empire may also be considering claims. A number of veterans of the Eoka insurgency in Cyprus in the 1950s are known to have been watching the Mau Mau case closely.