Justice Comes Slowly for Fr. Kaiser

kaiser.jpgDeath came in the dark of night.  On the morning of August 24, 2000, Mill Hill Missionary Fr. Anthony John Kaiser was found mortally wounded on the side of a highway in Kenya.  He had been shot with a rifle in the back of the head, not far from the truck he had been driving.  The truck had scrapes of paint of another color on the side, as if it had been hit.  Many in Kenya and in his home community in Minnesota assumed that he had finally been murdered for daring to speak about the rampant corruption in the Kenyan government.  However, the Kenyan police quickly ruled it suicide to the great consternation of his colleagues.  Pressure was put on the US embassy to investigate and the FBI sent a team over.  The FBI, too, ruled that it was a suicide, cementing what AFJN and many others considered to be a whitewash if not a cover up.  The authorities in Kenya were too important to the U.S.to upset over such a small thing.  Finally, seven years later, after a reopening of the inquest, a Kenyan judge has ruled that Fr. Kaiser was indeed murdered.  Much remains to be done to finger the killers, but at least the laughable conclusion of the FBI has been officially discredited.  Our colleagues at The Nation newspaper in Kenya wrote….
It was murder, Kaiser probe rules

 

Story by MARK AGUTU
Publication Date: 8/2/2007

Catholic priest Antony John Kaiser [sic] was murdered, contrary to claims by the world-renowned American Federal Bureau of Investigations and Kenyan police that he killed himself.

An inquest into the priest’s death trashed FBI’s report advancing the “Suicide Theory” saying it was based on a preconceived notion that the priest killed himself and not any concrete evidence.
It also ruled out possibilities of the priest having been mentally unstable saying no tangible evidence was tabled in court to back the claim.

But Chief Magistrate Maureen Odero said she could not — on the basis of evidence tabled before her in the inquest — point out with certainty who the priest’s killers were.

Consequently, Mrs Odero recommended that police carry out a fresh round of investigations to ascertain those behind the priest’s grisly death seven years ago.

She zeroed in on a number of people who should be investigated to determine whether or not they played any role at all in the death of Fr Kaiser.

Fr Kaiser met his death on the night of August 23-24, 2000 and his body was found at the Morendant Junction along the Naivasha-Nakuru High way. The cause of death was massive head injury due to a gun shot to the head.

According to the court, those who should face investigations are a Catholic Church Catechist Francis Kantai, who was serving under Fr Kaiser at the Lolgorian Parish within Ngong diocese at the time. Though it was stated that Mr Kantai was close to Fr Kaiser, his behaviour in the period leading to the priest’s death raised many questions.

His evidence was in the court’s view “unreliable, evasive and contradictory” besides a personal admission that he lied to the FBI. He also disappeared after Fr Kaiser’s death and never attended his funeral, as expected of a friend.

Others to be investigated are Kenya Wildlife Service game rangers at the Mara game park Samuel Kortom, Joseph Kupasar and Daniel Suya.

Their involvement in the disappearance of a rifle and a magazine from Mara Serena armoury around this time, raised many questions that beg for answers.

Loss of firearm

“It is not lost to the court that the rifle is a high powered firearm similar to the type used to kill Fr Kaiser. It is highly suspicious that close to the time Fr Kaiser meets his death a mystery still exists as to the loss of a firearm and a magazine from the Mara,” Mrs Odero observed.

But the inquest cleared former Cabinet minister Julius Sunkuli who it had been claimed in the inquest was unhappy with the priest’s involvement with two girls — Ann Suwayo and Florence Mpayei — who had lodged rape complaints against the Kilgoris MP.

“If Sunkuli wanted to eliminate a person because of these allegations, then in the court’s view, he would have targeted the girls themselves or his named political detractors and not Fr Kaiser who was not the source of the allegations.

kaiser.jpg“It is probably true that Sunkuli may have been unhappy that Fr Kaiser supported these girls but then many other people offered support to the two girls including the officials at FIDA who filed cases on behalf of the girls. Why would he target Fr Kaiser whose role in the whole thing was peripheral?” the court posed.

While trashing the suicide theory, Mrs Odero gave the FBI a tongue lashing, dismissing their report as “replete with loopholes and missing links and raised more questions than answers.”
Despite the priest being an American citizen, the FBI took a very casual approach to this investigation as evidenced by their failure to consider any alternative theory to explain Fr Kaiser’s death and their ignoring very blatant anomalies, Mr Odero said.

“On the whole this court finds the FBI report to be seriously flawed, superficial and lopsided.
She said her decision was based on evidence at the scene such as the state of the priest’s pick-up which bore signs of a knock with another vehicle and the body posture. Key police witnesses also testified that the scene looked interfered with.

Following the decision which is likely to pave way for fresh investigations, the court granted a request by Catholic’s lawyer Mbuthi Gathenji that the exhibits tabled before the inquest be preserved.

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