I was forced to cover up British tourist's murder, claims Kenyan forensic expert

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The Independent Online

The pathologist who examined the remains of the British tourist Julie Ward after she was killed and dismembered in a Kenyan game park 16 years ago was forced to change his report by the authorities to cover up her murder, the inquest into her death was told yesterday.

Dr Adel Shaker, a forensic expert for the Kenyan police, revealed for the first time the campaign of intimidation he was subjected to after he came to the "certain conclusion" that Ward had fallen foul of a killer who had burnt her body - rather than wild animals or a lightning strike.

The Egyptian-born pathologist, who now lives in America, claimed it was made clear to him by senior officials that the true nature of the death of the 28-year-old wildlife photographer had to be concealed to protect Kenya's interests, including its tourist industry. In a statement, he said: "People told me this was the fate of one girl balanced by the fate of one nation."

The disclosure on the opening day of the first British inquest into Julie's murder came as her father, John Ward, described how he had sifted through the "black and oily" ash of the fire where her body parts were burnt in search of a means to confirm her identity.

The death of his daughter in Kenya's Masai Mara game reserve led to a long and unsuccessful campaign by Mr Ward, 70, a hotelier from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, to bring her killers to justice.

The trials of two rangers from the park resulted in acquittals, leading Mr Ward to make a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police in 2001 of conspiracy between the Kenyan government, Scotland Yard, the British Foreign Office and the British High Commission in Kenya to hinder the investigation. The inquest in Ipswich is expected to hear from a retired British intelligence officer, Mr "A", about his activities during the inquiries.

Mr Ward said yesterday that his struggle had begun shortly after the discovery of Julie's remains in September 1988. A screen was used to show a picture of the body parts found at the scene - a lower jaw bone cut in two with a sharp implement thought to be a machete and Julie's badly burnt left leg showing a deep slash to the thigh.

A post-mortem examination of the remains was carried out by Dr Shaker on 15 September. But within days of telling British diplomats and friends of Mr Ward that the clean fractures to Julie's remains had been made by a sharp instrument, his boss, Dr Jason Kaviti, a health advisor to the Kenyan government, had paid a visit to his office demanding to see his report. In his statement, which was given to Lincolnshire Police, who are investigating Mr Ward's 2001 complaint, Dr Shaker said: "He took the report ... I heard him saying 'no, no, no' and saw him underline through some words. I saw him underline through the words 'cleanly cut'. He said it was only my opinion. I wasn't happy about this but Dr Kaviti was my boss."

When a copy of the autopsy report was eventually seen by Mr Ward it was crudely altered, with words crossed out or typed over. The hotelier said: "Where [Dr Shaker] had typed 'cleanly cut' as far as the leg and jaw were concerned, these words had been changed to 'torn' and 'cracked'. You are starting to talk about an attack by animals and not human beings."

Mr Ward, who has said he hopes that the inquest will lead to a fresh investigation in Kenya, described how the remains of Julie, who had gone to the Masai Mara to photograph migrating wildebeest, were discovered after he flew to Africa and organised an air-and-land search, first for her missing vehicle, and then for her body.

Showing a picture of burnt grass, he said: "The fire was about 4ft in diameter; in it there was a mug, some burnt sunglasses and film cassettes. Even though I knew it had to be Julie, I wanted to go through the ashes to see if there was something I could find and identify. The odour was one of burnt flesh. The fire itself was black and oily. I could find nothing that I could identify."

Mr Ward said he then ran up against a wall of bureaucracy and manipulation as he tried to speed up the investigation into his daughter's death. The inquest heard that, despite agreeing to remain silent about the changes to his report, Dr Shaker, who did not give evidence at the two trials, was subjected to a campaign to undermine his authority. Dr Kaviti told Mr Ward that the alterations had been due to Dr Shaker's poor English and his lack of experience of hyenas in Egypt.

The pathologist also highlighted increasingly outlandish attempts by the Kenyan police to rule out murder. At a meeting attended by the commissioner of police, one officer, Inspector Murchuri Wanjau, suggested that Ms Ward was sexually promiscuous and had killed herself. Dr Shaker said: "Wanjau said she was a 'loose girl'. He talked of suicide and how she could have cut herself up and lit a fire which spread."

After being accused of stealing money from a drunk driver and forced to surrender his passport, the pathologist said he left Kenya in 1992 and was not asked to give evidence to fresh inquiries, including an investigation by Scotland Yard. In a separate development, Mr Ward said that he also met a white Kenyan with close links to both the police and the British High Commission who tried to convince him that his daughter had been killed by a lightning bolt.

Jenny Jenkins, a consular official at the high commission who became Mr Ward's point of contact during his subsequent campaigning, said that multiple rumours surrounded the death of the British tourist, including a suggestion that she had been killed by a son of the then president, Daniel Arap Moi. But she added: "I believed the Kenyans were stalling for time in order to protect their tourist industry."

The hearing continues.