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Kenyan aristocrat freed from prison

Thomas Cholmondeley has been freed after serving five months of an eight month sentence.
Thomas Cholmondeley has been freed after serving five months of an eight month sentence.
  • Kenyan aristocrat jailed for manslaughter released after serving five months in jail
  • Thomas Cholmondeley was jailed earlier this year for killing black Kenyan at his family farm
  • Eton-educated Cholmondeley initially charged with murder but judge reduced the charges
  • The killing sparked racial tensions in the east African nation
  • Kenya
  • East Africa
  • Racial Issues

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- One of Kenya's most famous white aristocrats was released from prison Friday, a federal official said, after serving time in a killing that sparked racial tensions in the east African nation.

Thomas Cholmondeley has been in jail since 2006. He was sentenced to eight months in prison earlier this year for shooting a black Kenyan at his vast family farm in May 2006. His release comes after serving about five months under rules that allow sentences to be reduced for good behavior.

The 2006 killing was the second time Cholmondeley had been accused of fatally shooting a black Kenyan whom he suspected of poaching on his ranch in the Rift Valley. The first case was dropped because of lack of evidence.

Cholmondeley, 40, was initially charged with murder in the latest killing, but the judge reduced the charges to manslaughter, saying he showed no malice or intent when he shot Robert Njoya, a stonemason.

After the manslaughter conviction, many Kenyans accused the government of favoritism, with some taking to the streets in protest. The public anger was fueled by the earlier incident in which Cholmondeley was accused of shooting a game ranger who was not in uniform.

Cholmondeley spent three years in a maximum-security prison while the latest case was beset by delays and controversy.

The Eton-educated aristocrat comes from a prominent British family that includes the third Baron Delamare, who came to Kenya at the turn of the 20th century and became one of the country's most prominent white settlers.

Most of the nation's white settlers left after the country's independence in 1963. Those who stayed took Kenyan citizenship.

CNN's David McKenzie contributed to this report.