Two British soldiers suspected of murdering Kenyan woman

Case comes to light after rights organisation expresses frustration at inquiry's lack of progress
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The Independent Online

Two British soldiers are being investigated over the murder of a 21-year-old woman in Kenya, whose body was found stuffed inside a septic tank.

The killing took place at Nanyuki, where the British military carry out regular exercises, including brigades being deployed to Afghanistan.

It is believed the soldiers were with their regiment in the area when Agnes Wanjiru-Wanjiku, who is thought to have worked as a prostitute, disappeared on 31 March. Her decomposed body was discovered on 5 June in the grounds of a hotel in Nanyuki. According to local reports, Ms Wanjiru-Wanjiku's body was retrieved by police officers after it was discovered by an employee at the Lions Court Hotel while unblocking a sewer.

Susan Nyambura, a friend of Ms Wanjiru-Wanjiku, is reported to have said the dead woman was in the hotel bar having a drink with two white men on the night of her death.

"She told me that she was going into a room with one of them and asked me to keep watch over the other so that he could not be picked by another girl," Ms Nyambura told the Kenyan newspaper, The Star.

Ms Nyambura said she had to leave the bar after waiting for her friend in vain, adding that she was unable to communicate with her because she did not have her mobile that day.

Police in Kenya are said to believe that they have enough circumstantial evidence to question the two British soldiers, including claims from witnesses that they were seen in the company of Ms Wanjiru-Wanjiku. Neither soldier has been charged. The Royal Military Police are expecting further details of possible evidence against them from the Kenyan authorities.

An MoD spokesman in London said: "This is an ongoing Kenyan investigation and as such it would be inappropriate for the Ministry of Defence to comment further." The two men have not been named.

The department of public prosecutions in Nairobi has written to police in Nanyuki demanding a progress report on the case, Kenya's The Standard newspaper reported.

Sky News, which initially broke the story, said yesterday that its sources had seen Ms Wanjiru-Wanjiku entering a hotel with two British soldiers, and that the victim is thought to have worked as a prostitute.

The news channel said the MoD had been made aware of the incident when the death was first reported, but that it had only now become public after a Kenyan human rights organisation, Social Watch, passed on a letter it has written to the Kenyan director of public prosecutions, urging action in the case and expressing a growing sense of frustration in Nanyuki at the lack of progress in the investigation.

"Nanyuki police is accused of taking a casual stance in the matter," the letter says. "The [Nanyuki] police station is also accused of not [being] willing to pursue British Army personnel, who act with impudence."

Kenya is used by thousands of British troops each year as a staging post before deployment in the UK's only active war zone, with troops completing their pre-deployment training in Nanyuki.

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