British Army tells court it can't be sued in Kenya

British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) soldiers during a thanksgiving service in Nanyuki, September 19, 2022. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

The British Army on Tuesday asked the High Court to dismiss a case filed by the family of Agnes Wanjiru who was allegedly murdered by one of its soldiers.

British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk) Commander Colonel Andrew Wilda, in his reply before High Court judge Lawrence Mugambi, argued that Kenyan courts lack jurisdiction over any case against the unit.

According to him, Batuk is part of the UK army and enjoys the immunity given to the British government.

"The UK government, as a foreign sovereign state, does not consent to submit to the jurisdiction of this court and to be impleaded in the present proceedings,” argued Wilda.

He, however, said that investigations are ongoing on the murder of Wanjiru, 11 years ago.

This comes as the Director of Public Prosecution Rension Ingonga also objected to the case. In his reply, the DPP said that he had actively given directions on Wanjiru’s murder and filed an inquest.

Ingonga said that he has no information so far on the progress of investigations in the UK.

“Even if this honourable court issued orders prayed for as against the Director of Public Prosecutions, these orders will be in vain because they cannot be executed against by the Director of Public Prosecutions,” argued Ingonga.

In the case filed before the High Court in Nairobi, Wanjiru’s family said it believes that the Kenyan government and the British administration have been deliberately concealing the name of the perpetrator.

The family also accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) of sidelining them in the investigations and failing to disclose information that would enable them seek justice and bring the culprit to book.

Wanjiru’s family asked the British government to extradite the officer to Kenya to face murder charges.

The case was filed by Wanjiru’s sister, Rose Wanyua, alongside the human rights group African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action.

Wanyua’s lawyer Mbiyu Kamau argued that it is unfair for the Kenya and British governments to keep the family in the cold without knowing whether Wanjiru’s killer will finally face the law, or whether her 11-year-old daughter will be compensated for the injustice she has suffered.

“The decision not to prosecute, extradite the suspects and or release information uncovered during the investigation of the deceased’s murder to the first petitioner to pursue other avenues of justice for such a long period of time is a gross violation of the 1st Petitioner’s right to fair administrative action," said Mr Mbiyu

Wanjiru’s body was discovered in the Lion Court Hotel’s septic tank on June ­­2012. However, investigations took around five years before their findings were sent to the DPP.

The DPP recommended that an inquest should be conducted 22 months after he received the file. On November 5, 2019, the magistrate’s court found that Wanjiru was murdered. Two years later, a UK-based paper, the Sunday Times, revealed that the identity of the killer soldier was known by the UK authorities.

Her family said there was a possible cover-up.