New evidence in Julie Ward murder

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The Independent Online
A fresh investigation has been launched into the death of Julie Ward eight years after the British tourist was murdered in a Kenyan game park. The Kenyan government announced this weekend that new information about her murder had made the inquiry necessary.

A senior Kenyan politician and a number of other high-ranking officials have been implicated in her death. It is understood President Daniel arap Moi himself ordered the new investigation in order to dispel the suspicions and rumours that surround the case. "I think he is a bit tired of the innuendoes and suspicions which have been surrounding the case and has given instructions that this [investigation] must be conducted in an open manner," Julie's father John Ward said at a news conference in the capital, Nairobi, yesterday.

Ms Ward, a 28-year-old publisher's assistant, was murdered in the Masai Mara National Reserve in September 1988. Her body was cut into pieces and burned.

The Kenyan authorities' feeble attempt at a cover-up was thwarted by Mr Ward, owner of an East Anglian hotel chain. Enraged by the refusal of the Kenyan police to launch an investigation into her disappearance, he set up a helicopter search of the bush in the country's interior and found her mutilated remains. Kenyan police at first insisted that she had been torn apart by wild animals. At one point they even said she had committed suicide.

Two game rangers charged with the murder were acquitted in 1992 because of insufficient evidence. The new leads include statements by an inmate in a Kenyan jail and by Valentine Kodipo, a former policeman in Kenya, who claims to have witnessed the murder.

Now in hiding in a Scandinavian country, Mr Kodipo says that while on patrol in the game reserve he came across Ms Ward, semi-naked, bound and gagged, in the back of a van. He says she was taken out of the vehicle, then assaulted with whips by a number of men, among them a senior police officer. Mr Kodipo, who denies taking part in the torture himself, says she was then bludgeoned to death with a club while a leading politician looked on.

The exiled former policeman has idientified most of the alleged participants by name. He believes she was executed because she stumbled across a secret militia training camp or because she had been the unwitting witness of a drugs transaction in the game park.

Julie Ward was last seen alive on 6 September 1988 as she packed up two tents at a camp site near the Tanzanian border after a photo safari. She set off for Nairobi, 125 miles away, but got no further than the remote corner of the world-famous Masai Mara game reserve. It was there, a week later, that her father discovered her remains: a severed leg, part of her jaw and a strand of her hair.

John Ward, whose perseverance has made him a thorn in the side of the Kenyan authorities, has spent a personal fortune of about pounds 330,000 in his search for Julie's killers and is seeking compensation from the Kenyan government.