Kenyan journalist's murder case postponed again

By Tom Rhodes/CPJ East Africa correspondent on October 29, 2010 2:08 PM ET

Francis Nyaruri was murdered in 2009. (CPJ/Courtesy Josephine Kwamboka)

Kenyan journalist Francis Nyaruri went missing on January 16, 2009 after writing a series of articles for The Weekly Citizen about corruption and malpractice by local police and civil servants. Thirteen days later, his bound and decapitated body was found near his hometown of Nyamira, northwest of the capital city of Nairobi. Twenty-two months after the murder, the outcome of his bereaved family and friends' quest for justice appears uncertain.

Joseph Karanja is the principal magistrate in Kisumu, some 45 miles from where Nyaruri's remains were found. In court on Thursday, he disqualified himself from the trial of two suspected killers. He told the audience that it was his last day hearing criminal cases and that he could not initiate a new case despite the presence of five witnesses in court. "They just seem to be playing games," Nyaruri's widow, Josephine Kwamboka, told me after the hearing.

A key police investigator into the murder, Robert Natwoli, had come to testify, but he left disappointed like Nyaruri's widow. As the officer who arrested the suspects, Natwoli is a crucial witness, but he has not yet been provided an opportunity to address the court, he told me. Natwoli said he left the police force this year after facing a series of harassment and intimidations from fellow officers.

Nyaruri's last article implicated top police officials in conspiring to defraud the public of millions of shillings through a police housing project. In 2006, Nyaruri's newspaper, The Weekly Citizen, was raided by police who seized equipment and arrested several journalists, following stories critical of President Mwai Kibaki, according to CPJ research.

(Reporting from Kisumu, Kenya)


This is yet another slap in the face of our brand new/second hand laws.

It was very clear and it is clear, that Nyaruri's death came from some senior police officers who were based in Nyamira. Infact, this is a pointer to where the harassment of Mr Robert Natwoli, the then OCS Myamira, came from. Mr Natwoli and the late Nyaruri's relatives and friends should know that God wilI ensure that the truth is known and those responsible brought to book.

Robert Natwoli, while serving as the OCS Nyamira by then, was one of the best police officer i have worked with. I knew him when he was a commander in GSU paramilitary. He was very hardworking officer at Nyamira. But God is there for him and Nyaruri's family. I am really saddened to learn that he has left the force at such young age. I Kindly appeal to anybody who can come to the rescue of this poor officer with a job offer. I can now believe that good people don't last.
He did a commendable job by arresting the killers of Nyaruri. Please Robert, Take heart as everyone is with you.

Karanja, policeman November 2, 2010 1:33:05 PM ET

As a journalist, am deeply saddened by the delay in ensuring justice is delivered in this matter. All in all, we will not relent in pursuit of the truth to ensure that Nyaruri's killers are brought to book.

The death of Nyaruri was sad and It is important that Kenyan journalists begin to think about safety at work and also act in solidarity with colleagues. There are journalists in Lodwar who are currently under threat.We need to continue demanding justice and I urge journalists to also keep track of the trial and escalate the issue beyond Kenya through all media.

Oloo Janak.

william Oloo Janak November 7, 2010 12:38:57 PM ET

The indictment of former police force is good news in this trial still very senior police officers are still in the force and one is passed retirement age. I initiated the arrests and pursued the executors but todate my life is misery for this quest but we must make sure that justice is done.

Andrew Mandi- Advocate. December 20, 2010 3:42:08 AM ET

The government's laxity to persue this matter clearly shows its involvement.Its painful to ave a government tat kills its citizens instead of protecting them.We up that someone will come one day and help us know who killed our brother.

These issuesareso real.Have been writing for Weekly Citizen for some time.Currently I'm out of the country after facing such serious threats on my life.Though the writing is still on.Its isallabout taking personal is RISKY too.

Mundia Mundia Jnr January 25, 2011 4:29:21 AM ET

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