FBI Probes Murder of American Priest in Kenya

July 7, 2008 - 7:08 PM

Nairobi (CNSNews.com) - The American embassy in Kenya has repeated its demand for a thorough investigation into the murder of an American missionary in Kenya a month ago.

Political counselor Nathan Holt said the U.S. would not accept any attempt at a cover up, either by government officials or anyone else. "We do not expect to see any stone unturned, the truth must be revealed," he said.

Holt said FBI agents brought in to work alongside the Kenyans would "not allow any manipulation of the investigations."

The body of Father John Anthony Kaiser, 67, of the American Mill Hill Fathers order was found on August 24 alongside a road in Naivasha, a town some 150 kilometers south of Nairobi.

The priest, who had worked in Kenya for 36 years, had been shot in the back of the head.

Holt's comments, made at the site where the body was found, were echoed by Kenyan Catholic and Protestant leaders

Church leaders have accused government officials of orchestrating the murder of a cleric who had been a constant thorn in their side.

During a memorial service to the slain priest, the Bishop of Eldoret, Cornelius Korir, said: "We shall continue to suspect the government, until it exonerates itself from the murder, because to suspect is not a crime."

Among those attending the service were several thousand Kenyans, including some lawmakers, both from the ruling KANU party and opposition groups.

Kaiser was a vocal critic of the Kenyan government, accusing it of responsibility for bloody inter-tribal clashes two years ago.

In the weeks leading up to his murder he told friends he feared for his life.

The Kenyan government this week again denied any responsibility for his death, and urged church leaders to be patient until investigations were complete.

Internal Security Minister Major Marsden Madoka said everything was being done to find out who was behind the murder.

"'To the best of my knowledge and that of my colleagues in government we stand innocent of those allegations and wish not be drawn into the controversy surrounding Father Kaisers' death until investigations are over," he said by telephone.

"We accepted the FBI to help us carry out the investigations to ensure transparency in the entire exercise," Madoka added.

Kenyan Muslims have backed the church's stand on the matter.

Muslim community spokesman Sheikh Juma Ngao said the government was "the key suspect ... the government is either involved or is protecting those involved unless it proves otherwise."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy reported early Tuesday that three FBI agents seconded to Kenya to investigate the murder have left for the U.S. to analyze some samples.

Spokesman Thomas Hart said the agents took away the clothing the priest was wearing and other material, to be examined and analyzed at a laboratory in Washington DC. The results are expected in two weeks' time.

A leading Kenyan daily, The People, reports that the killing will be raised in the U.S. Congress by Senator Paul Wellstone (D) of Minnesota, Kaiser's home state.

"'Wellstone's motion is seeking for a concurrent resolution to be passed by [both Houses] ... to have a fresh independent investigation launched into the cleric's death and its findings made public before the end of this year."

The motion also sought to have President Clinton "express outrage at the killing of a U.S. missionary and publicly condemn the murder."

In Washington a memorial service for Kaiser was held near the Kenyan Embassy Sunday, sponsored by human rights and church groups.