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Attempt to grab Sh1B property may have led to death of conservationist Esmond Brdaley

By Cyrus Ombati | Published Wed, February 28th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 28th 2018 at 09:05 GMT +3
Renowned conservationist Esmond Bradley who was killed at his home in Karen, Nairobi. [Photo: Courtesy]

Renowned conservationist Esmond Bradley Martin may have been killed over his Sh1 billion prime land in Karen, Nairobi.

Detectives investigating the death of Martin, killed at 77, said they are looking into possibilities his killers wanted to eliminate him so they can snatch his 20-acre land.

This was after it emerged that detectives have stumbled on land transfer documents showing the grabbers tried to change ownership of the property.

Discovery of the documents has now widened the scope of investigations into the killing of the man known for his fight against illegal trade in ivory and rhino horns.

Initially, the police were pursuing two lines of investigation, either a robbery gone wrong or a hit linked to Martin’s efforts to fight the illegal trade in wildlife.

But the land documents showing an attempt to transfer ownership of his property opens another lead into the investigation. Current real estate estimates show that an acre of land in Karen would fetch about Sh57 million.

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The same grabbers had been in constant communication with one of Martin’s four workers prior to his death. The employee is helping police with the investigations.

Martin was found dead in his house on February 4. He had a stab wound in his neck.

“We believe these people targeted his land and his elimination was the surest way of dealing with the matter,” said one investigator who did not wish to be named.

The detectives said they have established a link between the suspected land grabbers, possible killers and the worker, who they believe was used to commit the offence.

“The worker had been in constant communication with the people who wanted to grab the land.”

The officers believe the person behind the killing knew the compound well and the dogs were familiar with him or her.

Martin, a wildlife activist and expert on the illegal ivory trade, was killed in his house near Banda School.

Because of Martin’s work, which often involved going undercover in remote locations around the world to investigate illegal ivory trade, many were quick to link his killing to his activism and investigations.

Martin and his wife, Chryssee, had just had lunch with friends at Nairobi’s National Park before he was killed.

They returned home around 2pm and Chryssee went for a stroll in the forest on their land.

When she returned to the house, she discovered the body of her husband in a pool of blood on the second floor.

Those who visited the scene said little or nothing appears to have been stolen. Police said there appeared to be no struggle on the house’s ground floor where Martin had his office.


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