UK Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey nanyuki agnes wanjiru

UK Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey addresses a press conference at the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) Nyati Barracks in Nanyuki town on November 3, 2021.

| Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Agnes Wanjiru murder: UK says willing to extradite soldiers

The UK government is willing to allow extradition of suspects implicated in the murder of Agnes Wanjiru nine years ago. 

This is according to British Minister for Armed Forces, James Heappey, who is currently on a Kenya visit. He pledged his government's support to the country in seeking justice for Wanjiru.

“These are legal matters that will need to be considered in time but the Secretary of State for Defence has been clear: if investigations lead to charges against a British serviceperson, he will make sure Kenyan investigations and legal procedures are supported,” he said, adding that Kenya has legal jurisdiction on the case. 

UK minister speaks on Agnes Wanjiru murder

The UK Minister is in the country to follow up on a probe into the killing of Wanjiru, 21, allegedly at the hands of a British soldier who was stationed in Nanyuki at the time. 

“I am not immediately clear right now on the arrangements for extradition between the UK and Kenya but absolutely everybody in the UK government is aware of how the case has affected the Kenyan public and we want you to know that we take that very seriously and want justice for Agnes,” he said. 

Heappey, who is also the Member of Parliament for Wells, met with the Nanyuki community at Batuk’s Nyati Barracks.

'Don't stop Batuk training'

He has, however, warned against cutting military ties between Kenya and UK saying the Nanyuki community is highly dependent on it. This is after Kenyan Members of Parliament said they were mulling thwarting the Defence cooperation deal between Kenya and the UK that was signed in June by President Uhuru Kenyatta and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The Kenyan parliament is sovereign and so are their decisions...but we must warn that this will be problematic. The local community enjoys good economic relations with Batuk. Before they decide to terminate, they should speak to the local community and KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) on how they benefit from the relationship,” he said. 

In a meeting with Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa this week, MPs said the matter has taken too long to resolve, despite a court in Laikipia finding that the matter was a clear case of murder.

They insisted that before the renewal of the agreement, which is set to come to an end next year, they wanted to see action against the British soldier, so as to deliver justice to the family of Wanjiru.

Agnes Wanjiru relatives

Relatives of Agnes Wanjiru, who was murdered nine years ago in Nanyuki, display her photograph in Nanyuki town on October 25, 2021. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Mandera North MP Bashir Abdullahi said Kenya has jurisdiction over foreign troops training in the country and must come out clearly over the murder of Wanjiru.

Wanjiru was last seen entering a hotel room at the Lions Court in Nanyuki with two British soldiers on March 31, 2012. Her body was found two months later in a septic tank next to the room. She left behind a five-month-old daughter. The court concluded that she was killed by one or two British soldiers.

In an inquest heard before the Nanyuki law courts between October 8, 2018 and concluded on November 5, 2019, Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku concluded that Agnes Wanjiru was killed by British soldiers.

The findings of the inquest were copied to the DPP and AG with the aim of facilitating arrest and prosecution of the murder suspects.

According to lawyer Wahome Gikonyo, the recommendations given by Thuku were sufficient for the AG to enforce the extradition of the suspects to be tried for murder under Kenyan law.

“The inquest found that an offence of murder was committed and the next course of action ideally would have been for the DPP to prosecute the murder case. The role of the AG would have been to enforce the arrest and extradition of the suspects and witnesses,” Gikonyo said.

Additional reporting by Samwel Owino