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UK Defence Secretary to meet Agnes Wanjiru’s kin after murder by British soldier

By Hilary Kimuyu February 29th, 2024 2 min read

Britain’s Defence Secretary has offered to meet personally with the family of a Kenyan woman allegedly killed by a British soldier more than a decade ago.

Agnes Wanjiru, 21, reportedly died at the hands of British soldiers in 2012 at Lions Court Hotel on the outskirts of Nanyuki.

James Heappey told the BBC, “I absolutely understand their pain…I am happy to meet and discuss and sympathise and understand as best I can.”

Mr Heappey said he sympathised with the family’s anger at how long the process is taking. Wanjiru’s body was discovered in 2012 in a septic tank near a British military base in Nanyuki, central Kenya.

Also read: British man charged with murder of Kenyan woman in Karen

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

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 quest for justice gained momentum late last year when protests rocked Nanyuki, with residents and leaders led by Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi demanding the suspect be extradited to Kenya to be prosecuted in local courts.

This prompted Heappey to visit Nanyuki in November 2023, where he said that his government was willing to allow the extradition of suspects implicated in the murder of Wanjiru.

“I am not satisfied with the progress that is being made. We want this matter resolved once and for all. We have nothing to hide. If the evidence shows that the individual was culpable, then he is yours to extradite,” said Heappey.

Also read: Mystery of murder suspect wanted in UK, hiding in Kenya

The family’s concerns come in the wake of reports by British media that the prime suspect in the murder was still at large in England, with the police and the army said to be dragging their feet in the investigations.

“Key witnesses who were there on the night of Agnes’ death have not been spoken to by the military. There has also not been an investigation into eight servicemen – including Solder X (the main suspect in the murder),” The Sunday Times wrote.

The British soldiers, then attached to the British Unit Training in Kenya (Batuk) camp in Nanyuki, were on a night beer-drinking spree with commercial sex workers when Wanjiru met her death.

Some of the soldiers at the merry-making party confessed they were shown Wanjiru’s body by one of their colleagues, the alleged killer.

Members of Soldier X’s regiment allege the name of her killer was an open secret, with five different soldiers identifying the same person to The Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported on February 25 that the British Army had not held an inquiry, and their superiors had not questioned any of those present that night.

An inquest was held in Kenya in 2019, and a judge ruled the mother was ‘murdered by British soldiers’, but the army took no subsequent action.