MPs allege cover-up in murder of Agnes Wanjiru

Lawmakers threaten to cancel military cooperation agreement between Kenya and UK until case is resolved.

In Summary
  • Committee will invite the DPP Noordin Haji and Attorney General Paul Kariuki to explain the inaction.
  • Defence CS Wamalwa said the government has obtained commitment of the British government to do a joint investigation.
Agnes Wanjiru in Nanyuki in 2012
Agnes Wanjiru in Nanyuki in 2012

MPs are alleging a high-profile cover-up in the case where a British soldier murdered a Kenyan, Agnes Wanjiru, in 2012.

Members of the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Relations committee on Tuesday claimed some powerful forces in the Kenya and UK governments have been frustrating justice in the brutal murder of the 21-year-old.

The lawmakers threatened to cancel a military cooperation agreement between Kenya and UK until British soldiers involved in the gruesome murder of Agnes Wanjiru are brought into the country to face the law.

“There are reports that attempts by our police to get assistance from British soldiers have not been successful including getting DNA samples,” Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo, who chaired the session, said.

The lawmaker said the committee will go for army commanders who, despite getting the reports, failed to take action.

“We will be pursuing other officers who did not play their role. Obviously, where people did not play their role there was outside influence,” Kilonzo said.

Kilonzo said the committee will invite Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Attorney General Paul Kariuki to explain why the country is yet to prosecute the case nine years after the gruesome murder.

Saku MP Rasso Dido accused the government of pursuing bilateral relationships at the expense of the lives of Kenyans.

He alleged that Kenyan authorities are engaged in a cover up to protect the relationship with the British government.

“Our greatest worry is cover up and continued attempt by commanders to whisk away culprit who should face justice," Saku said.

"The issue of Agnes, while it appears unique, [but] I think what we shouldn't do is to try to weigh the advantages of relationship vis-a-vis the lives of the people.”

The leaders spoke when they met Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa who was appraising the committee on the steps the government has taken to bring to book British soldiers involved in the murder of Wanjiru.

Wamalwa told the Committee that the Kenyan government has obtained commitment of the British government to do a joint investigation and bring the culprit to the country to face justice.

He said the government is considering the issue as a highest priority, dismissing claims of cover up.

Wamalwa said that once the prosecution is made, the UK government will ensure extradition happens.

“My counterpart in the UK did make a statement on behalf of UK that they will cooperate, and he has committed we are going to form joint investigations to ensure justice is served,” he said.

“He has written to me indicating on what they are doing to ensure a joint visit and the culprit is processed to face justice.”

The CS also pleaded with the lawmakers to consider ratifying the military cooperation with UK after the existing agreement elapsed in October.

He explained the new agreement is in the interest of Kenya.

But the adamant MPs threatened to halt the ratification of the Memorandum of Understanding until the Agnes case is resolved.

Saboti MP Caleb Amisi said the House is more concerned with the lives of Kenyans more than its relations with other countries.

“We put more emphasis on national interest other individual interest,” Amisi said.

Failing to ratify the military cooperation agreement would mean the end of the British training in Nanyuki as the foreign forces stay in the country on the strength of the agreement.

According to the elapsing Military cooperation agreement, visiting forces are compelled to abide by the laws and regulations of the host country.

The agreement also gives the host countries jurisdiction over a member of the visiting forces, including prosecution, incase of wrongdoing.

According to  a UK-based newspaper,  the soldier, referred to only as  soldier X, made fun in a group of nine colleagues, through a Facebook post, in which they laughed over the crime.

Agnes Wanjiru who was 21 at the time, worked as a sex worker to fend for her only daughter in Nanyuki.

(edited by Amol Awuor)