Kenya accused of role in missionary's murder

Human rights campaigners and members of the Catholic clergy say they fear the brutal murder in Kenya of the American missionary, Fr John Kaiser, was politically motivated. The body of the outspoken priest, who accused Kenyan government ministers of crimes ranging from rape to land theft, was found on the roadside outside Naivasha, 50 miles north-west of Nairobi, at dawn on Thursday. He had been shot in the head.

Human rights campaigners and members of the Catholic clergy say they fear the brutal murder in Kenya of the American missionary, Fr John Kaiser, was politically motivated. The body of the outspoken priest, who accused Kenyan government ministers of crimes ranging from rape to land theft, was found on the roadside outside Naivasha, 50 miles north-west of Nairobi, at dawn on Thursday. He had been shot in the head.

"He had been told by people in government to be careful and that his life was in danger," said Sister Nuala Brangan, who visited the murder scene on Thursday. He had a licensed gun and had asked Masai warriors to protect him, she added.

Fr Francis Mwangi, the last known person to see Fr Kaiser alive, said he had seemed "very tired and worried" the night he disappeared. "He didn't look the usual jolly guy I know. I tried to bring up a conversation but he seemed very agitated."

Kenyan police have started a murder investigation.

Fr Kaiser, originally from Minnesota and a former US soldier, was a vociferous civil rights campaigner who made enemies of many senior politicians during his 36-year stay in Kenya.

His body was found 30 metres from his Toyota pick-up, which had been damaged and driven into a gully. A bloodstained axe was found in the back of the vehicle and one window was broken. The force of the gun blast spread brain matter over a wide distance, suggesting he was executed standing up.

While a shotgun found by the priest's feet is believed to have been his own, police have ruled out suicide as a possible cause of death.

Last year he told an inquiry into the 1994 clashes in Rift Valley province that "all big people in the government are involved in land grabbing".

He claimed that two government ministers, Nicholas Biwott and William Ole Ntimama, encouraged the tribal killings by sending Maasai warriors to Israel for commando training. The "commandos" were subsequently used in violent land evictions, the priest claimed. Mr Biwott has also been accused of involvement in other high-profile murders in the past.

The cleric also brought to light allegations last year that another government minister, Julius Sunkuli, raped his underage cousin. Mr Sunkuli has denied the charge and is currently on trial. The cabinet minister, who has not resigned his post, was once reported as saying: "Fr Kaiser hates me like poison."

The Kenyan government tried to deport the vociferous priest last year in what was seen as an attempt to silence him but withdrew the order following protests from human rights groups, the Catholic church and the US embassy.

"He wasn't murdered for his money or for saying mass or the rosary. Given his profile and conviction for the truth, it seems likely that one of these cases contributed to his death," said Sister Brangan, who was arrested last April after taking part in a debt cancellation rally.

Fr Kaiser's body was taken to Nairobi yesterday for an autopsy. The US ambassador to Kenya contacted the Attorney-General, Amos Wako, to offer any possible assistance, an embassy spokesman said. An FBI officer has already started to work on the case.

The Catholic archbishop of Nairobi, Ndingi Mwana a'Nzeki, said he was not ruling out state involvement in the killing but had been personally assured by government sources there would be "no cover-up". Fr Kaiser was "a strong character who lived a simple life with his people", he said. "He just said what he thought about what was right and wrong."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine