Game park murder `witness' questioned

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A former secret police officer who claims to have witnessed the torture and killing of the British tourist Julie Ward in Kenya has been interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives, it was revealed yesterday, writes Louise Jury.

The new witness could hold the key to what happened to 28-year-old Miss Ward, whose murder in the Masai Mara game reserve in 1988 was initially attributed to wild animals in an alleged cover-up by Kenyan authorities.

Her father, John, who has made repeated trips to Africa in his attempt to bring her killers to justice, first spoke to Valentine Kodipo - said to be a member of a political death squad - in 1993 at the house of a Kenyan MP. But the house was raided and Mr Kodipo fled. Mr Ward eventually met him for a second time and took a 19-page statement after the United Nations helped Mr Kodipo get refugee status and start a new life in Scandinavia.

Mr Ward checked details before handing the statement to the Kenyan authorities. When they failed to act, he contacted Scotland Yard. A spokeswoman yesterday confirmed that two officers from the Yard's international and organised crime branch, had interviewed a witness in Scandinavia in August.

Mr Ward, 63, a Suffolk hotelier, said Mr Kodipo claimed that the men who took part in, or supervised, the torture and execution, included three top Kenyans - a politician, a man who was a close confidant of the Kenyan president, Daniel arap Moi, and the country's most senior policeman. He said the men were so well connected that it was now up to the Government to pressure the Kenyans into starting a new investigation.

But relations between the two countries are at a low point after Britain froze the payment of pounds 11m from its pounds 15m annual aid package to Kenya.