UK soldier free as Kenya dithers on murder case

Relatives of Ms Agnes Wanjiru show her photo

Relatives of Ms Agnes Wanjiru show her photo. She was murdered in 2012 allegedly a British soldier.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

At the end of a public inquest into the murder of Agnes Wanjiru by British soldiers, principal magistrate Njeri Thuku predicted that Kenyan authorities would do nothing to bring her killers to book.

More than two-and-a-half years later, her prediction has come to pass as Wanjiru’s killers continue to walk free 10 years on due to diplomatic interests between Kenya and the United Kingdom as well as jurisdictional wars among Kenyan institutions.

“It is possible that even after stating a decision in this opinion, no action may be taken by any of those charged with doing so. If that be the case, then those who know the fate that befell Agnes on the night of March 31, 2012 shall be in the Hound of Heaven,” she said in her ruling on November 5, 2019.

Kenyan authorities continue to pass the buck with hopes of justice for Agnes and her family fast-fading. At the end of last year, investigations into the murder were reopened under orders from the Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai.

Working on the foundation from the findings of the public inquest, the homicide department of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) was expected to seal any gaps in preparations for prosecution of killers.

The UK, through Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey, also pledged cooperation in the probe at the height of public outcry, expressing willingness to extradite suspects and persons of interests back to Kenya.

As of November 5, 2021, homicide detectives were set to travel to the UK to interview 14 soldiers who had been staying at the Lion Court Hotel where Agnes was murdered.

Findings from the inquest suggested that Agnes was killed by one or two British soldiers.

On the other hand, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji told Parliament that they were ready to begin the extradition process to bring the suspects back to Kenya and start trial as soon as the DCI is through with investigations.

A dedicated homicide team with an already completed inquest report and the cooperation of the UK meant that the Agnes murder trial would start or so it seemed.

Eight months later, authorities have barely made any progress in the investigations, or request for extradition of the persons of interest.

In fact, the Nation has learnt that the plans for detectives to travel to the UK to question the suspects and witnesses were shelved and the DCI instead made a deal to have UK military police conduct the interviews.

Last week, UK media reported that this is yet to happen and the main suspect, who remains unnamed, is still a free man.

Mr Haji said that the DCI homicide team is yet to forward its findings onto the case, further denting any hopes of justice.

“The office has not received the investigation file from the DCI on this matter. We are aware that the DCI requested for Mutual Legal Assistance to the UK through the Office of the Attorney-General. We are ready to peruse the file and make a decision to charge once we receive the investigation file from the DCI,” DPP Haji told the Nation.

DCI boss George Kinoti did not respond to queries from the Nation on the progress of investigations by the time of going to press.

However, the homicide department at the DCI did revisit the scene of the crime in Nanyuki on December 9, 2021 amid concerns it might have been too late.

Wanjiru was killed in 2012 and by the time the detectives returned to reconstruct the scene, the Lions Court Hotel was being renovated, meaning most of the evidence was gone. It was also documented during the inquest that the room in which Wanjiru was assaulted and stabbed to death had been cleaned repeatedly.

Principal magistrate Thuku pointed out there were deliberate attempts to cover up the murder aided by the hotel staff and management. She recommended that the hotel staff also be investigated. This has not happened.

The delay in the investigations and prosecution of her killers comes at a time when a military pact between Kenya and UK has stalled.