The family of Agnes Wanjiru has instructed the renowned law firm Leigh Day to sue the British Ministry of Defence over the alleged cover-up of her murder at the hands of soldiers training in Nanyuki nine years ago.
Wanjiru was reportedly last seen in the company of two soldiers at Lion’s Court Hotel, before she disappeared on March 31, 2012.
The family has reiterated its commitment to seek justice for their kin with Leigh Day now preparing to commence proceedings.
The top command of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) was allegedly informed of the murder when it happened, but did nothing.
“I can confirm we are instructed and we are investigating a potential judicial review challenging the Ministry of Defence’s failure to investigate Agnes’ death. The family wants to find out exactly what happened to Agnes and they also want the allegations of a cover up to be investigated,” Tessa Gregory, a partner at the firm, told the Nation.
Mr John Muchiri, the brother-in-law, added: “We are more than ready and willing to be enjoined in the suit that is being pushed by the British firm. What we are yearning for is justice for Wanjiru.”
Wanjiru’s body was discovered more than two months after she went missing after an evening with soldiers.
The entry of Leigh Day in the matter is bound to cause problems for the defence ministry given the rich reputation of the firm in suits against powerful corporations and governments.
Leigh Day has in the past won cases against the governments of UK and Japan as well as Shell, BP and Trafigura in environmental and human rights cases.
The firm gained popularity in Kenya in 2010 after it represented some 5,000 Mau Mau war veterans in a suit against the British government for atrocities meted out during the independence war in the 1950s. The veterans were awarded £19.9 million in compensation.
The British government has also twice been compelled to pay 1,300 people, who were seriously injured or killed by exploding bombs. The payments were done in 2003 and 2004 after Leigh Day negotiated the settlements.
The suit is besides an ongoing criminal investigations into nine soldiers linked to Wanjiru’s murder.
Despite delaying for close to a decade, there is a glimmer of hope in getting justice after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations took over the case.
The push for extradition of the suspects received a boost when Kenyan authorities, for the first time since 2019, acknowledged that an inquest had concluded that Wanjiru “was murdered by British soldiers”.
Homicide detectives from the DCI say they just need to seal pending gaps in the case to make it watertight before pressing charges.
“The presiding Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku, found on November 5, 2019, that indeed there was an offence committed. Wanjiru is alleged to have been killed by a British soldier. The inquiry file was forwarded to the DCI to tighten the case,” the DCI said in a statement.
The detectives have since contacted the UK government with a bid to collaborate in the remainder of the investigations, which is mostly questioning the nine soldiers who were at the hotel at the time.
“As a result, detectives from DCI Homicide division are expected to travel to the UK soon to gather all the necessary information and evidence as by law established, so as to tighten our case before narrowing to the main suspect(s) guided by the facts,” the DCI said.