The African country’s high court commenced hearings into a murder case against UK soldiers on Wednesday FILE PHOTO. Soldiers attached to a company comprising a storied regiment of recruits in the British army prepare for an overnight simulated military excercise of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) together with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) at the ol-Daiga ranch. © TONY KARUMBA / AFP

The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) has asked the East African country’s high court to dismiss a lawsuit involving the alleged murder of a young woman, Agnes Wanjiru, by its soldiers more than a decade ago.

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Kenyan courts lack jurisdiction over any case related to a UK army unit in the country, BATUK Commander Colonel Andrew Wilde told High Court judge Lawrence Mugambi, the Kenyan Standard newspaper reported on Thursday.

“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,” Wilde explained, according to the outlet.

On Wednesday, a hearing into Wanjiru’s case began in Nairobi, 11 years after her mutilated body was discovered in a septic tank at a hotel in Nanyuki, the town in Laikipia County where the UK Army has a permanent garrison. The 21-year-old woman had gone missing for several weeks after spending the night partying with British troops.

A Kenyan judiciary inquiry in 2019 concluded that British soldiers were responsible for her death and ordered additional investigations.

Nairobi police announced the reopening of investigations following reports that a British soldier confessed to Wanjiru’s murder in 2021. However, no charges have been brought forward by prosecutors.

The issue of jurisdiction over British soldiers who violate Kenyan law has sparked disagreements between London and Nairobi, with other incidents, such as claims of environmental violations by the BATUK, adding to recent local tensions.

Wanjiru’s family has repeatedly accused the Kenyan and UK governments of deliberately concealing the identity of the victim’s killer. According to the complaint before the Kenyan High Court, the family has also charged the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) with excluding them from the investigations and failing to disclose information that would allow them to seek justice. Wanjiru’s family has asked that the British government extradite the officer to Kenya to face murder charges. The family reportedly filed the case alongside the African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action.

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According to a court document cited by AFP, BATUK Commander Wilde has denied allegations that the British government was covering up investigations into its troops.

“It is not correct to say that the Ministry of Defence or the UK government covered up the investigations or the revelations of the perpetrator of the alleged murder,” Wilde said, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, the hearing has been adjourned until May next year, prompting objections from the victim’s family, which has long sought justice for her death.

“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,” Mbiyu Kamau, lawyer of the Wanjiru family is quoted by the Standard newspaper as saying. (RT)