Years after the body of 21-year-old Agnes Wanjiru was discovered in a septic tank in Nanyuki, a post related to the murder emerged on Facebook, British paper The Sunday Times reports.
This comes at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected in Britain for the Cop26 Climate Conference as Britain’s Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey, is expected in Kenya to meet troops.
According to the paper, one of the soldiers in the Unit (the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment), posted two pictures from outside the venue where Wanjiru’s body was found.
The post was captioned, “if you know, you know” and tagged scores of soldiers out of which most, including one who is still a member of the unit, gave a response to the post.
One of them posted a picture of a ghost emoji, to which another added the words “septic tank”, the paper reports.
Soldier X, who is alleged to have been responsible for the murder, posted an angel emoji, which is used to convey angelic behaviour.
In response, the other soldiers posted “crying with laughter” emojis, followed by a cartoon image of a baby crying at a funeral, from Family Guy, an American adult animated TV show.
The Times reports that when asked if he “gets all choked up thinking about that place” Soldier X replied: “Come to think of it I have had a sore throat today.”
Previously, the paper says, sources had told the media that the suspect told the members of the regiment, that he accidentally choked and killed Wanjiru during sex.
Another soldier responded to his comment with a laughter emoji, while the soldier who had asked him the question responded: “Wow wow we wow.”
The Times reports that nine soldiers were involved in the Facebook conversation, adding weight to previous claims made by others in the regiment that Wanjiru’s death and the name of the man said to be responsible, was an “open secret”.
One of those involved in the conversation said he had not believed the rumours that Soldier X had murdered a prostitute that night.
“If I was laughing, I was probably laughing at the night, because it was a bit of a crazy night,” he said. “There was loads of women,” goes The Times story.
The publication reported that when they asked him whether he knowingly joined in with the jokes about the murder, he said: “I don’t think I was laughing at that [a murder].
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“The rumour I heard is that somebody had sex with a prostitute, and the sex went wrong. To be honest I didn’t even believe it.” He added that he only thought the rumours might be true after seeing recent news reports, according to The Times.
The conversation prompted journalists to present the posts to soldier X last week. He declined to comment on them.
When asked if he could remember being at the Lions Court Hotel, he said: “I’m not, obviously not, going to talk about it. I would want a lawyer with me to talk about anything.”
Before this, he had dismissed the allegations as rumours despite his name coming up in the investigations several times but missing from the list of officers who had booked the room at that time.
It is alleged that the perpetrator got intimate with a Kenyan woman before killing her and dumping her body in a septic tank about a decade ago.
The body was discovered on March 31, 2012, at the Lion's Court Inn hotel in Nanyuki, by a worker who noticed a foul smell while in the line of duty.
The publication’s investigations revealed that five soldiers from the unit gave the same name belonging to soldier X. However, by the time Wanjiru’s body was found, all the British Army Training Unit Kenya soldiers who had been at the hotel had gone back to the UK.
Four months ago, Kenya and Britain signed a five-year defence cooperation agreement to improve regional security in east Africa.
The agreement, The Times says, is said to have implications for Kenya’s ability to hold British soldiers to account, even if the government wanted to.
The Sunday Times quotes a military source as saying that the agreement specified that British troops could not be charged with offences such as murder in Kenya.
Ben Wallace, UK Secretary of State for Defence, said they were fully supporting the Kenyan police in probing the murder.
“DNA had been formally requested in relation to the Wanjiru case by the Kenyans only last week, which of course we are responding to. We had never received the request,” Wallace told The Times.
The Times reported that a request for the DNA of soldiers involved was made by Kenyan detectives on June 20, 2012, shortly after her body had been found, in an official letter.
Pressure to respond to the matter, which is now a growing scandal, is expected to heighten in both countries ahead of President Uhuru and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meeting.