Journalist found decapitated in western Kenya

New York, January 30, 2009–Reporter Francis Nyaruri was found decapitated and with his hands bound on Thursday in a forest in western Kenya. Nyaruri, who wrote for the private Weekly Citizen under the pen name Mong’are Mokua, had been missing since January 15, according to local journalists and relatives.

“We send our deepest sympathies to Francis Nyaruri’s family and colleagues,” said CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Tom Rhodes. “We call on the police to pursue all possible leads and ensure that the perpetrators of this hideous crime are brought to justice swiftly.”

Nyanza deputy police Chief Larry Kieng confirmed to reporters that Nyaruri’s body was found in a thicket in Kodera Forest, Nyanza Province, on Thursday, decapitated with hands tied behind his back and marks on his body. Nyaruri’s wife, Josephine Kwamboka, identified her husband at a Kisii hospital, according to local reports. Kieng said a team of senior officers had been dispatched to Nyamira to investigate the murder, the private daily The Standard reported.

Prior to his disappearance, Nyaruri had written a series of articles that exposed financial scams and other malpractice by the local police department, local journalists told CPJ. The journalists said Nyaruri had told them of unspecified threats by police officers in the area for articles he had written in the Weekly Citizen. 

Nyaruri left his residence in Nyamira at about 7:30 am on January 15 and traveled 19 miles (30 kilometers) to Kisii to purchase construction materials, local journalists reported. Kwamboka told reporters that she had spoken to him at 11 a.m. the same day but did not hear from him again.

Francis Nyaruri is the second journalist killed in Kenya in the past year. In May 2008, New Zealand photographer Trent Keegan was killed by unknown assailants in Nairobi.