Retrial call as warden cleared of Ward killing

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The Independent Online
A FORMER Kenyan game warden was cleared yesterday of murdering Julie Ward, amid bitter recriminations from the British woman's father. He is demanding a retrial, citing "serious irregularities in proceedings".

Friends and supporters of Simon Ole Makallah celebrated by dancing in traditional robes outside Nairobi High Court. John Ward has petitioned Kenya's attorney general to declare a mistrial. He said Mr Makallah had been allowed to talk regularly to the judge's advisers, the court assessors, which is "strictly forbidden".

But his wife, Jan, who had helped him hunt for the killers, said: "It has been 11 years. Maybe this really is the time to call it a day unless someone comes forward with more information." Earlier, Mrs Ward had said the legal process might have to be concluded without justice being achieved. Now Mr Makallah's lawyers said he intended to sue Mr Ward for malicious prosecution.

Judge Daniel Aganyana said the evidence against Mr Makallah, now assistant director of Kenya's Wildlife Services, was almost purely circumstantial. He was critical of Mr Ward and said the "matter should now be closed".

Mr Ward said he had complained earlier of irregularities, adding: "I am aware this will not be well received by everyone, but this is about fundamental justice." Mr Ward, a hotelier, has travelled the world and spent more than pounds 500,000 trying to find the killer of his daughter, who died aged 28. He said Mr Makallah had been his chief suspect "from the first day I saw him".

Judge Aganyana said the evidence against Mr Makallah was not compelling. "Nothing added to nothing makes nothing. The case was based on purely circumstantial evidence. We all share the grief of the Ward family. Unknown agents of doom caused her death." He said Mr Ward "has tried his best ... but he considered his theories and opinions of paramount importance, if not the law itself".

Mr Ward and British officials had accused Kenyan authorities of bungling the investigation and trying a cover-up to protect the tourist industry. Ms Ward's charred and dismembered remains were discovered a week after she went missing. Police first said she had been attacked by animals or committed suicide, and a pathologist's report was tampered with.

"We must draw a line," says mother, page 7