British Army faces lawsuit over gruesome murder of Kenyan woman
The family of a young Kenyan mother murdered by a British soldier almost a decade ago is planning to sue the army to demand answers over her death, their lawyers have revealed.
The body of Agnes Wanjiru, 21, was found in 2012 after she reportedly went out partying with British troops at a hotel in the central town of Nanyuki, where the British army has a permanent garrison.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper reported last month that a soldier confessed to killing Wanjiru and showed comrades where he dumped her body in a septic tank behind the hotel.
The revelations have galvanized fresh calls for an investigation and justice for Wanjiru, and Kenyan police last week announced they were reopening the case.
“We are instructed by the family of Agnes to challenge the Ministry of Defense’s failure to investigate her alleged murder in 2012,” Tessa Gregory, a partner at law firm Leigh Day which is handling the case, said in a statement
“Our client desperately wants justice for Agnes but also wants answers as to what the British Army knew and why it is that over the last nine years the Ministry of Defense appear to have done nothing to address the known allegations Agnes was brutally murdered at the hands of a British soldier.”
Wanjiru was last seen one evening in March 2012 with a British soldier from the military base and her body was found about two months later. Wanjiru’s eldest sister, still has one question for the killer: “What did my sister do to you to deserve this?”
The death, Wanyua says, affected her more than their mother’s, which occurred when Wanjiru was a small girl. “It’s painful, very painful. Shiru did not deserve to die the way she did,” says Wanyua, using a diminutive form of her sister’s name. “We will never forget her.”
Since Kenya gained independence in 1963, thousands of British infantrymen have passed through a training camp on the outskirts of Nanyuki known as BATUK for exercises in harsh terrain.
Their presence has been full of controversies and crimes against locals. British troops have been accused of crimes while serving in Kenya, but none have been prosecuted, despite reports of serious assault and affray, rape and murder, and protests by dozens of women that they were abandoned by soldiers who fathered children with them.
Widespread rape cases
In December 2006, a British government inquiry into reports that British troops raped more than 2,000 Kenyan claimed that there was no reliable evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
Amnesty International says that at least 40 Kenyan women gave birth to mixed-race children after being raped by British troops.
Human rights group representing Maasai women in the case, said it would continue attempts to have the accused men prosecuted.
Martin Day who represented the rape victims 650 women had come forward adding that the stigma of admitting to being a rape victim was so great in Kenya.
The women who survived sexual assault and rape by British troops now live in a village sanctuary in northern Kenya and is known as The village of Umoja—“unity” in Swahili.
These women were abandoned by their husbands because they were considered to be “defiled.” Other men drove the women out of their houses fearing they would now contract sexually transmitted diseases from their raped wives.
In northern Kenya, the British Army trains with live ammunition - and local children are maimed and killed by the ordnance our troops leave behind. For many years local people have been killed and maimed by unexploded ammunition.
The Maasai and Samburu communities filed suit with the High Court in London in the spring of 2001, saying that the British Army had failed to clean up ordnance used in its exercises. The two sides reached an out-of-court settlement wherein the victims would receive over $7 million. However, the British Army training in Kenyan continues with its reckless behavior leaving many dead or injured.
Forest fire and arrogance
In March 2021, British soldiers in a training excursion were blamed for a fire that razed part of the 49,000-acre Loldaiga conservancy with one soldier arrogantly writing a Snapchat post about his role in the fire. “Two months in Kenya later and we’ve got only 8 days left … been good, caused a 4.5k fire, killed an elephant and feel terrible about it but heyho when in Rome …” read the soldier’s message as reported in local and international media.
Some 1,000 Kenyans are suing the British military, after the wildfire that destroyed part of a wildlife conservation area and affected people in the surrounding communities.
Lawyers for the Kenyans say the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) started the fire while conducting military training exercises. The BATUK unit is based at Nanyuki, not far from the Loldaiga sanctuary and Laikipia.
The fire destroyed some 12,000 acres at Loldaiga and claimed the lives of some protected animals, although just how many remains unclear and the Kenya Wildlife Service initially denied any such losses.
The British government acknowledged responsibility at the time of the incident but has fought against claims made by the African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action, an environmental group that acts on behalf of the affected communities and is a party to the lawsuit.
MPs oppose military agreement
Kenyan Members of Parliament are now contemplating thwarting the defense cooperation agreement between Kenya and the United Kingdom that was signed in June by President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK's Prime Minster Boris Johnson.
The legislators in the National Assembly Defense committee said that until the British culprits in the murder of Agnes Wanjiru are prosecuted under the Kenyan laws, the military agreement will not be ratified.
MP Charles Kilonzo lamented that for nine years the government has been giving assurances with no tangible action taken to ensure justice is served to the family of Wanjiru's family.
If legislators shoot down the military cooperation agreement, it would mean the end of the British training in Kenyan’s Nanyuki region as it will have no legal agreement or backing.