28 August 2006

Kenya: Bring Kaiser's Killers to Book, Clerics Demand

Nairobi — Catholic Church leaders have said they will not rest until the killers of Father John Kaiser are brought to book.

The church also asked those with information on why the priest was killed to volunteer it and testify at the ongoing commission of inquiry.

In his sermon at Mass to mark the sixth anniversary of Fr Kaiser's death, the Kenya Episcopal Conference chairman, Archbishop John Njue yesterday said: "Even though we were told by the FBI that he committed suicide, we categorically rejected that verdict. It was as a result of that rejection that we instituted an inquiry, which is still on course. The inquiry is a candid indication that we are still asking who killed Fr Kaiser and why."

The archbishop said Fr Kaiser was a source of inspiration and hope to the needy and his memory is still alive.

"We all remember the mistreatment he received in camps (for land clashes victims). But he did not shy away... He protected human dignity, he never gave up and defended the oppressed to the end," the archbishop said.

The Mass was preceded by a procession from St Joseph Cathedral in Ngong to Mary Mother of God Church in Embulbul, about 10 kilometres away.

Among those at the memorial were Environment and Natural Resources minister Kivutha Kibwana and Mr Maina Kiai of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

The Mass was led by four other bishops: Cornelius Schilder, Colin Davis, Peter Kairo of Nakuru and Peter Kihara of Murang'a.

Fr Fins Eppink and Sister Nuala Ibuum from the International Justice and Peace Commission represented Fr Kaiser's Mill Hill Missionaries.

Fr Eppink said: "We will not rest until the circumstances of Fr Kaiser's death are fully clarified and the findings of the commission of inquiry are acted upon."

Bishop Kairo read the message from the Pope's representative in Kenya, Archbishop Paul Lebeaupin, in which he described Fr Kaiser as "a humble man who lived his life for the service of the less fortunate in society".

Fr Kaiser was a recipient of this year's Milele (Lifetime Achievement) Award. The posthumous award was presented by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on August 6 in recognition of Fr Kaiser's dedication to the pursuit of human rights and justice for Kenyans.

A statement from the Catholic Church last week said that during his 36 years in Kenya, Fr Kaiser campaigned against land grabbing and corruption.

"An outspoken critic of the Moi regime, he worked tirelessly for the rights of the poor and marginalised in society," said the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.

Fr Kaiser died under mysterious circumstances at the Morendat junction on the Nakuru-Naivasha road. The Government set up an inquest into his death in 2004 but it is yet to submit its findings.

In 1998, the priest had told a judicial inquiry that two Cabinet ministers had trained people to rid Rift Valley Province of opposition supporters.

The Government tried to deport him, but revoked the order after protests by interest groups and the international community. He went into hiding when he started receiving death threats and complained of being followed by strangers. He was later found dead.

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