Julie Ward court goes back to scene of her murder

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The Independent Online
PARK RANGERS and staff at a lodge gave a warm welcome to the man charged with the murder of a British tourist when the court moved yesterday to the Masai Mara game reserve where the remains of Julie Ward were found 11 years ago.

Some of the workers at the Keekorok Lodge hugged Simon ole Makallah and chatted with him while he waited to enter the makeshift courtroom in the lodge.

The defendant, now an assistant director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, was the Masai Mara reserve's chief game warden and lived at the camp when Ms Ward, 28, was killed.

Speaking in Swahili, a lodge employee, Joseph Sakarri, assured Mr Makallah, "God is with you", while his colleague, Simon Tolu, consoled him with, "God will help you".

Mr Makallah, 49, was in the group of searchers which found the mutilated and charred remains of Ms Ward in the southeastern corner of the reserve on 13 September 1988. Officials determined she may have been killed up to six days earlier.

Her father, John Ward, a hotelier who has spent a personal fortune trying to bring her killer to justice, began his testimony last week in Nairobi in the second trial over her death. In the first trial in 1992 of two park rangers charged with Ms Ward's death, Mr Makallah was a prosecution witness. The rangers were acquitted for a lack of evidence, and the judge criticised police for conducting a flawed investigation.

In a quick session yesterday, the prosecution put Mr Ward in a witness box to remind him he was still under oath, before the court and journalists moved in a convoy of six vehicles to several locations. These included a post office near the lodge, where Mr Ward said he had received a report radioed in by Mr Makallah that his daughter's remains had been found, and a campsite where Ms Ward and two male friends had stayed overnight.

Today the court will travel to the spot where Ms Ward's vehicle was found.