SEEKING JUSTICE

Wanjiru family sues British defence ministry

Last month, the paper reported that Wanjiru was allegedly murdered by a British soldier on March 31 2012

In Summary

•The department defends itself by arguing that Kenya police retained exclusive jurisdiction over the case and hence it was powerless to take independently investigate and take action against the officer over the matter. 

Rose Wanyua Wanjiku, an aunt to Agnes Wanjiru, speaks to the Star at her home in Majengo estate in Nanyuki town on Sunday.
BRITISH MURDER Rose Wanyua Wanjiku, an aunt to Agnes Wanjiru, speaks to the Star at her home in Majengo estate in Nanyuki town on Sunday.
Image: ELIUD WAITHAKA

Agnes Wanjiru's family has instructed a London-based law firm to sue UK's Ministry of Defence for failure to take action against one of its soldiers who allegedly murdered their kin in 2012 in Nanyuki. 

Tessa Gregory, partner at London-based law firm Leigh Day confirmed to the Star that Wanjiru's relatives had instructed it to take legal action against the defence ministry. 

“We are instructed by the family of Wanjiru to challenge the Ministry of Defence's failure to investigate her alleged murder in 2012," he said. 

The law firm told the Star that the deceased's family had a right to know why it took the ministry nine years to hold the suspect accountable despite evidence about the crime being available.

"Our client desperately wants justice for Wanjiru but also wants answers as to what the British army knew and why it is that over the last nine years, the Ministry of Defence appear to have done nothing to address the known allegations that Wanjiru was brutally murdered at the hands of a British soldier."

The family, through the firm, is set to file the suit in a London High Court, accusing the department of negligence and abuse of the rights of their kin despite overwhelming evidence that was readily available. 

News about the suit was first reported by London-based Sunday Times newspaper.

Last month, the paper reported that Wanjiru was allegedly murdered by a British soldier, whom it calls soldier X, on March 31 2012.

An inquest proceeding by a Kenya court led by the presiding Principal Magistrate Njeri Thuku concluded on November 5, 2019 that the 21-year-old mother of one lost her life at the hands of the British soldier.

Neither the British nor Kenyan authorities took up the case to serve the family justice. 

In fact, the paper also reported that the suspected soldier made fun of the killing on social media.

Wanjiru worked as a sex worker in Nanyuki town and lost her life after spending the evening entertaining the soldier in a hotel.

Her decomposed body bearing stab wounds was discovered three months later in a septic tank at the hotel. The officer was said to have left the country at the time of discovery. 

But the paper said that, "Leigh Day will seek a judicial review in the High Court of the MoD’s failure to investigate the murder despite evidence linking a British soldier to the crime and a 2019 inquest in Kenya finding Wanjiru was murdered by a British soldier."

The law firms prides itself as a unique legal outfit that works for "people in the United Kingdom, and across the globe, who have been injured, discriminated against or had their human rights abused."

The department defends itself by arguing that Kenya police retained exclusive jurisdiction over the case and hence it was powerless to independently investigate and take action against the officer over the matter. 

However, the family, the paper reports, argues that with evidence available, the department was duty bound to hold him accountable in the interest of justice. 

"Lawyers will demand a judicial review of why a British soldier accused of causing Agnes Wanjiru's death is still free," the paper says. 

This comes as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations announced over the weekend that it had established contact with London regarding the case.

It said its director Goerge Kinoti had "also requested for joint investigations into the killing, noting that the British officers were back in the UK".

"So far, the Officer Commanding Major Inquiry Team and Major Incident Room, Special Investigations Branch Regiment, Royal Military Police of the United Kingdom has been collaborating very well with DCI’s Homicide experts, regarding investigations into the case," the entity said.

As a result, it said, detectives from DCI Homicide division were set to travel to UK to gather all the necessary information and evidence to tighten its case before narrowing to the main suspect(s).

As part of the collaboration, Brigadier Ronnie Westerman, the defence advisor to the British High Commission met Kinoti on Friday to lay the groundwork for the next phase of joint investigations.

 

-Edited by SKanyara