MOD responds to reports it's dragging its feet in Kenya murder investigation

Army veteran and "prime suspect" in Agnes Wanjiru murder is walking free and ex-colleagues haven't been interviewed, says Sunday Times.

The Ministry of Defence has responded to fresh reports that it is dragging its feet in the investigation into the death of Agnes Wanjiru.

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

The town is close to the BATUK (British Army Training Unit Kenya) camp, and witnesses have previously told the Sunday Times (ST) that Ms Wanjiru, a sex worker, was last seen leaving the hotel's bar with a British soldier.

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 ST revealed in 2021 that the identity of her alleged murderer was known within the Duke of Lancaster Regiment – the newspaper reporting that an accused soldier had been named by his comrades.

Now, the ST reports "the identified soldier remains free and key witnesses who were present on the night of the murder have still not been interviewed".

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace arrives at the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) in January 2021 (Picture: MOD).

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.

An MOD spokesperson said: "We fully appreciate the seriousness and importance of this case over which the Kenyan Police have jurisdiction.

"In order to protect the active Kenyan investigation, and in the interests of justice, we cannot comment in detail on activity. 

"What we can say is that we share Kenya's commitment to ensuring a full and robust investigation into the death of Ms Wanjiru and the allegations against British soldiers, and we continue to work closely with Kenyan colleagues."

The spokesperson continued: "We are working on the appropriate legal arrangements to underpin our co-operation with their investigation, we have had several meetings to discuss our support to them, and where appropriate Royal Military Police have undertaken actions on behalf of Kenyan police.

"The Armed Forces Minister has discussed the investigation with Kenyan counterparts during his visits to Kenya, and their visits here, in order to ensure that all possible avenues for assistance are explored.

"This includes the visit of the Kenyan Defence and Foreign Relations Committee to the UK this week. While in Kenya Minister Heappey also met with community representatives in order to understand their concerns."  

The MOD claims to have engaged with the ST on 15 March to arrange the collection and transfer of the taped interview, in return receiving a response demanding a formal request for journalistic materials.

Kenyan police have been made aware of the evidence, according to the department, but have not made the formal request for it and thus the Royal Military Police (RMP) cannot carry out the request of the ST.

No matters have been investigated by the RMP in isolation, such as reports soldiers were caught joking on social media about the murder in question with the prime suspect.