Why we must always speak out against extra-judicial killings

Site where the body of the late Mill Hill Missionary, John Kaiser, was found. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Last Friday, the Catholic Church held an anniversary mass at Morendat in Naivasha for the late Mill Hill Missionary, John Kaiser.

Some 23 years have passed since his brutal murder yet the church is still asking questions and demanding action on his killers. The pleas may appear to be falling on deaf ears but they will not go away or cannot be brushed aside.

Indeed, the roadside memorial on the busy Nakuru highway is a constant reminder to thousands who pass each day that successive governments have lacked courage to properly investigate Kaiser's killing.

The government invited the FBI to investigate the case way back in 2000. They issued a statement to the effect that Kaiser had committed suicide but they never signed off on their report.

Moreover, despite three invitations to testify at the Public Inquest ordered by the late Mwai Kibaki in 2003, they failed to appear or even acknowledge the invitation. Yet, their prejudiced and fabricated judgment cast doubts over the priest's death.

That is until Chief Magistrate Maureen Odera, after hearing evidence from 111 witnesses concluded that Fr Kaiser had been murdered. She proceeded to name individuals who should be investigated in any further inquiry. These included the then minister Julius Sunkuli, catechist Francis Kantai and wild life rangers. The inquest concluded in 2007 but 16 years later, no investigation has begun. It suits the government and FBI to let the matter die, or so they think.

Interestingly, many observers have concluded that FBI sacrificed justice for Kaiser by getting the government cooperation to extradite principal suspects of the American Embassy bombing of August 16, 1998 that killed 213, for trial and prosecution in US.

A classic quid pro quo arrangement. In any case the priest's death is no longer a mystery as some commentators suggest; the mystery is why no investigation has taken place. Of course, Kaiser's killing is not the only one the government has failed to probe. Around this time too, we had the sixth anniversary of the brutal murder of IEBC ICT manager Chris Msando.

Msando was abducted late at night on the busy Nairobi roads, tortured, killed and dumped in the forest. As in the case of Kaiser, the government spin was that his death was result of a love triangle gone wrong. Yet, after six years no inquest has taken place and Msando's family remain falsely tarnished yet denied truth and justice.

At the time of his death, Musalia Mudavadi - who was then in the opposition - claimed state involvement in the murder. Yet, since his elevation in the Kenya Kwanza government he has never spoken on the assassination.

The sole voice of conscience demanding an inquest remains Roselyn Akombe, an IEBC commissioner who fled the country after the 2017 election. She constantly reminds Kenyans that she "will not tire in pursuit of justice.... and it is unfair to see those behind the brutal murder and their enablers roam freely around". Her courage is an inspiration and her knowledge an obvious threat to perpetrators and their masters.

Of course, there are other high-profile killings that have not been investigated or concluded satisfactorily. Names like JM Kariuki, Tom Mboya and Robert Ouko quickly come to mind. Assassinations have been all so frequent that we can become skeptical about ever attaining justice. However, our silence and indifference permit this heinous practice to continue unabated. Recent utterances and threats from President William Ruto are sending worrying signs to not only the named individual but to anyone perceived as an enemy.

Rather than apologise for the initial roadside utterance, the President repeated them and accused LSK of defending thieves while they and KHRC had spoken in defence of the rule of law. Neither organisation will be intimidated by the President's reaction as they have a long history of speaking truth to power and defending the rights of every citizen.

Meanwhile, the church and Akombe will continue their quest for justice knowing that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.