Ben Wallace on Downing Street 150920 CREDIT PA
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Picture: PA).
Africa

Defence Secretary directing 'full co-operation' into murder investigation of Kenyan woman

The body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was found in a septic tank close to the British Army Training Unit Kenya camp.

Ben Wallace on Downing Street 150920 CREDIT PA
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Picture: PA).

The Defence Secretary has pledged full co-operation into the murder investigation of a young mother near a British Army base in Kenya.

The body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was found in a septic tank at the Lions Court Hotel in the town of Nanyuki two months after she disappeared in March 2012.

The town is close to the BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) camp.

In a post on Twitter, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is "impatient with the pace of this and has directed full co-operation".

"He is working with the Military and Kenyan police to ensure their investigation is not impeded."

While an initial inquiry was unsuccessful, a fresh investigation has been launched after an inquest delayed until 2019 found Ms Wanjiru was unlawfully killed, the Sunday Times reported last month.

This weekend, the newspaper reports that a soldier accused of the murder has been named by his comrades.

According to the Sunday Times, the soldier allegedly confessed to the killing, and another soldier reported it to senior officers at the time – but no action was taken.

A post-mortem examination found Ms Wanjiru died as a result of stab wounds to her chest and abdomen, with evidence she had also been beaten.

However, due to the condition of her body, it was unclear whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Witnesses told the Sunday Times that Ms Wanjiru, a sex worker, was last seen leaving the hotel's bar with a British soldier.

Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey said the Government should investigate any possible "cover-up" relating to the murder of a Kenyan woman.

Mr Healey said the details of Ms Wanjiru's death "are dreadful, yet there's still no action from defence ministers on reports of grave failings by the British military".

He added there had been no Ministry of Defence-led investigation and "no inquiry into why the MOD failed to respond when Kenyan detectives asked for help".

Ben Wallace arriving at BATUK earlier this year (Picture: MOD).

"Nine years on, justice must now be done for Agnes and her family," Mr Healey said.

"When our forces serve overseas they stand up for British values and these allegations, if proven, would profoundly betray those values.

"This is another case that raises serious questions about the way crimes are reported, investigated and prosecuted in the military."

An MOD spokesperson said: "In 2012, Special Investigation Branch carried out initial enquiries in Kenya, including providing information about British personnel to the Kenyan police. No further requests were received at that time.

"Following the conclusion of a Kenyan inquest in 2019, we are aware that the Kenyan authorities are looking into this incident.

"The jurisdiction for this investigation rests with the Kenyan police, and we are currently in discussions with the Kenyan authorities to determine what support is needed.

"Due to this being subject to an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further," the spokesperson added.