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UK minister offers to meet family of killed Kenyan woman

Thursday 29 Feb, 2024 {HMC} The UK’s Minister for the Armed Forces has offered to personally meet the family of a Kenyan woman allegedly murdered more than a decade ago by a British soldier.

James Heappey told the BBC he “absolutely” understood the pain of the relatives of Agnes Wanjiru, whose body was discovered in 2012 in a septic tank near a British military base in Nanyuki, central Kenya.

Speaking to the BBC during a visit to the country, he said: “I absolutely understand their pain…I am happy to meet and discuss and sympathise and understand as best I can”.

During an earlier visit to Kenya, Mr Heappey had suggested a meeting between British officials and Ms Wanjiru’s family, but none has since taken place.

In October last year the family wrote an open letter to King Charles saying “British officials don’t seem to care” about the case, and asked the monarch for a visit during his trip to the country.

The author of the letter, Ms Wanjiru’s niece Esther Njoki, welcomed Mr Heappey’s offer with “a warm heart” and said she hoped that “justice would be served and prevail this year”.

“It’s been 12 years of pain…and frustration,” she told the BBC. “Every time they come, they promise, but their promises, they are unkept… And we are worried that time is really moving and nothing has been done.”

The minister told the BBC that Kenya had not formally asked for the extradition of suspects, but the UK would support any requests that are made “up to and including charging and an extradition”.

Seven years after Ms Wanjiru’s death, a Kenyan inquest concluded that she had been murdered by one or two British soldiers.

Following reports of an alleged cover-up, Kenya’s Department of Criminal Investigations opened an inquiry, but has yet to charge anyone.

Mr Heappey said he sympathised with the family’s anger at how long the process is taking.

But he clarified that any meeting would not be about accepting culpability on behalf of the UK while the legal investigation continued.

SOURCE


Barbara Plett Usher

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