Justice for Agnes Wanjiru remains elusive a decade after her death
When The Sunday Times broke the story of the murder of Kenyan woman Agnes Wanjiru – killed, an inquest judge said, at the hands of a British soldier – it was met with demands for justice from around the world.
Wanjiru, a 21-year-old hairdresser who sold sex to soldiers for extra cash to help feed and clothe her baby daughter, Stacey, had disappeared after a night out drinking with British soldiers in the Lion’s Court Hotel in Nanyuki.
Two months later, her decomposing body was found in the grounds of the hotel, which lies close to a British army training base. She had been stabbed and her body stuffed into a septic tank.
The investigation, which ran over several weeks, involved months of work across two continents, identifying and speaking to dozens of potential witnesses, piecing together the events of the night and Agnes Wanjiru’s final movements, and uncovering digital evidence that supported witness testimony.
It led to The Sunday Times securing a key witness statement, from a man named as Soldier Y, who claimed that the killer had led him to the septic tank, where he had been shown Wanjiru’s body – and that he had reported what he had seen to his superiors. It also led to The Sunday Times identifying – and confronting – a suspect, Soldier X, whom several members of the same regiment named as the killer.
More than 10 years since Agnes Wanjiru was murdered, little progress appears to have been made
The story was picked up by media around the world. It was met with noisy protests in Kenya, and was shared on Twitter alongside the hashtag #JusticeforAgnesWanjiru. Members of both the United Kingdom and Kenyan parliaments demanded that whoever was responsible be brought to justice.
Back in the autumn, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was said to be “impatient” with progress on the case, and urged his department to assist its Kenyan counterpart. Wanjiru’s family had, at that point, been fighting for nine years for justice, and it appeared that the wheels might finally be shifting into motion.
But eight months later, and now more than 10 years since Agnes Wanjiru was murdered, little progress appears to have been made. When, later on the same day that he had been approached by The Sunday Times, Soldier Y went to civilian police to say he had information about a murder, local police said the matter was one for the Royal Military Police (RMP) – the same force that botched the original investigation in Nanyuki back in 2012.
When asked what progress has been made on the investigation into Wanjiru’s murder, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has repeatedly said that “jurisdiction for this investigation rests with the Kenyan Police”.
But details of the investigation that have been made public by Kenyan authorities suggest that the MoD – which is aware of the name and location of the suspect – has not passed on key information to the authorities in the African country who are investigating the crime. Witnesses who provided evidence to The Sunday Times say they have still not been approached by the army, or any police force.
With a named suspect, a crucial witness who was willing to speak to police, and lists of dozens more potential witnesses available to the police in the form of army rosters that detail the names of all those who were on the training exercise in Kenya at the time, the assumption was that the RMP and the MoD would swing into action and launch an investigation. Instead, the buck has been passed between civilian, Kenyan and military police forces. The murder that it seems was at best ignored, and at worst concealed, by members of the British army remains unsolved. And while Wallace’s patience was wearing thin after a matter of weeks, the Wanjiru family has now been waiting more than a decade for justice.
Hannah Al-Othman and David Collins are journalists with The Sunday Times and won the 2022 Paul Foot Award for their reporting on the Agnes Wanjiru murder case.
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