One suspect in custody for Trent Keegan’s murder in Kenya

New York, June 26, 2008—Despite the arrest of a suspect in the murder of New Zealand photojournalist Trent Keegan, questions about the killing remain unanswered, CPJ said today.

Kenyan police are holding a suspect in Keegan’s murder, a Kenyan police spokesman told CPJ. The police have not released details, but spokesman Eric Kiraithe told CPJ that police have not found any link between Keegan’s reporting and the murder.

Kiraithe said Keegan was killed in a suspected robbery on May 27. The award-winning photographer was found dead  in a trench with injuries to the back of the head on the morning of May 28 in a ditch alongside Nairobi’s main thoroughfare. Keegan had left a friend at 9:30 p.m. the previous night, colleagues said.

“It has been three weeks since Trent Keegan’s murder, and there are still many questions left unanswered regarding his investigation,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “We call on the Kenyan police to conduct a thorough investigation and pursue all possible leads.”

Some evidence suggests the attack was not a simple robbery. Although Keegan’s Mac laptop and cell phone were stolen, his wallet with 3,848 Kenyan shillings (US$62) was found on him. According to colleagues who visited the crime scene, Keegan’s body was carefully dragged into a hidden area in a ditch, concealing him for almost 12 hours, suggesting that the murderer or murderers did not flee the scene immediately.

Colleagues and relatives told CPJ that an external hard drive and discs—equipment that Keegan typically used for his work—were not on the inventory of a police search at Keegan’s apartment in Nairobi.

The attack took place in a relatively safe area of the Uhuru highway, just outside the parliament building, Kiraithe told CPJ. Colleagues who visited the crime scene said that while there were three closed-circuit cameras nearby, police have not divulged whether tape from them exists.

Kiraithe said the police are planning to release an update on the suspect in custody tomorrow.

Prior to his death, Keegan was investigating a land dispute in northern Tanzania between local Maasai and the Massachusetts-based Thomson Safaris Company, friends and colleagues told CPJ. Keegan had told colleagues via e-mail that employees of the safari company had visited him while he was reporting in Tanzania, questioning him about the report before he left for Nairobi. He said he was concerned for his safety.

A spokeswoman for Thomson Safaris told CPJ that the company was unaware that Keegan was working on a story about their operations and that they have not been contacted by the police involved in the investigation.