Nine British soldiers are facing questions over the murder of a Kenyan mother who was found stabbed to death in a hotel cesspool in 2012 after a night of partying near a military base.
Agnes Wanjiru, 21, was found two months after her disappearance at the Lions Court Inn hotel in Nanyuki, leaving behind a five-month-old daughter.
Witnesses said the sex worker was seen in the hotel bar that night with a number of British soldiers and left arm in arm with one of them.
His family are now demanding justice and claim their case was ignored in a bid to avoid a diplomatic row.
Nanyuki has a military base where, under an agreement with Kenya, the UK can send six infantry battalions a year for eight-week exercises.
As part of the agreement, the Kenyan Defense Forces are taking part in the exercises with their British counterparts.
Agnes Wanjiru (pictured), 21, was found two months after her disappearance from the Lions Court Inn hotel in Nanyuki, leaving behind a five-month-old daughter.
Kenyan police identified nine soldiers they wanted to interview and asked British Royal Military Police to interview them and take DNA samples.
But the Defense Ministry said last week it had never received such a request, stalling the investigation.
A new inquiry has been opened after an inquest that had been delayed for six years revealed that Agnes had been unlawfully killed.
The Ministry of Defense said last week that it was now helping Kenyan authorities “determine what support is needed”.
Detectives from Kenya’s FBI, Criminal Investigations Directorate, visited Agnes’ family in February, saying they were still focusing on the same nine suspects, who were infantrymen, who had booked rooms in hotel the night of his disappearance but had never been interviewed.
The soldiers recalled it as a debauched evening of ‘non-stop’ sex with prostitutes for very little money, with a mass brawl having taken place the previous night between the troops, and the soldiers were forced to get tested for HIV on their return to the UK.
Witnesses said the sex worker was seen in the hotel bar (pictured) that night with a number of British soldiers and left arm in arm with one of them
The former infantryman said: ‘It was all night, carrying women to the rooms, which looked like these huts. You could do whatever you wanted.
But when he returned to the UK, he said rumors started and he heard a soldier bragging about killing a prostitute in Nanyuki.
Agnes’ sister, Rose Wanyua Wanjiku, 48, said: ‘Her case has been completely ignored. From the first day we reported the case to the police station, the police did nothing until her body was accidentally removed from a septic tank.
She added that when detectives visited her earlier this year they said they had the names of the nine suspects and would conduct the interviews even if they had to travel to the UK.
Confidential documents seen by The Sunday Times show four witnesses told the initial Kenyan police inquest in 2012 that Agnes left the bar with a British soldier and went to his room.
One said he heard a ‘fierce argument’ break out in the room, and the documents show that Kenyan detectives asked the British army for DNA samples and to question the suspects, which did not did not happen.
Nanyuki’s local economy relies heavily on British troops carrying out civil engineering projects and spending money on local businesses.
Rose, who has since raised Agnes’ daughter Stacy, says she believes authorities in both countries believe the death of a poor sex worker can be ruled out.
She said: “From the first day we reported the case to the police station, the police did nothing until his body was accidentally found.”
Two of the nine soldiers present at the hotel on the night in question were found by The Sunday Times and have denied involvement in his death.
Nanyuki relies heavily on income from British soldiers based at Nyati Barracks and sex work is very common.
Girls can earn a week’s pay, around £30, for sleeping with a soldier, but others charge far less.
At the time, Agnes was trying to support her baby while living with her sister in a single room in the Majengo ghetto.
One soldier says he remembers around 60 other servicemen dancing with around 40 local sex workers the night he went missing.
Nanyuki relies heavily on income from British soldiers based at Nyati Barracks and sex work is very common
A friend waited for Agnes until 3 a.m. but eventually returned home after she failed to return.
A hotel night watchman said he escorted Agnes and a soldier to her room and saw them enter, but they seemed to get along well and he was not worried about her safety.
His disappearance remained a mystery until two months later, when the hotel’s general manager asked staff to investigate a smell in the building.
A maintenance worker opened a manhole and found the body of a woman, naked except for a bra and necklace, lying in filth in a septic tank.
An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed in the abdomen and chest and there were signs that she had been beaten, but it could not be determined whether she had been sexually assaulted.
A night porter added he heard a ‘fierce fight’ in the hotel room used by the soldier and Agnes, and believed there was more than one soldier in the room at the time -the.
Hotel records identified nine soldiers who had checked in that day, paying between £13 and £20 each, and they all left the following day.
Two of the bedrooms were adjacent to the septic tank where the mother-of-one was found.
Nanyuki has a military base where, under an agreement with Kenya, the UK can send six infantry battalions a year for eight-week exercises. Pictured: Soldiers on exercise in Nanyuki
But forensics were hampered by the delay in finding her body and the room she was in had been repeatedly cleaned.
A new investigation has been launched and is said to be “concerned” about the original investigation.
It also raises difficult questions for Kenyan and British authorities, who recently struck a £10million-a-year deal allowing 3,000 British troops to continue training at Nanyuki.
The local economy relies heavily on British troops carrying out civil engineering projects and spending money on local businesses.
A MoD spokesperson said: ‘In 2012 the Special Investigation Branch carried out initial investigations in Kenya, including providing information on UK personnel to the Kenya Police.
“No other requests for assistance have been received.” Following the conclusion of a Kenyan investigation in 2019, we know that Kenyan authorities are investigating this incident.
“Jurisdiction for this investigation rests with the Kenyan police, and we are currently in discussions with the Kenyan authorities to determine what support is needed.
“As this is the subject of an ongoing investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”