(NBC News) A U.K. court decided Friday that three elderly Kenyans who were victims of torture during British rule of their country in the 1950s can claim compensation despite the passage of time, in a landmark ruling that could clear the way for thousands of other cases.

Judge Richard McCombe rejected the British Foreign Office’s argument that the events took place too long ago for a fair hearing to take place and ordered that the case should proceed to a full trial.

During an earlier hearing in July, the U.K. government admitted for the first time that people were tortured during the “Mau Mau” uprising. Guy Mansfield, a lawyer representing Britain, told the three claimants that he did “not want to dispute the fact that terrible things happened to you.”

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