Missionary priest murdered, Kenya inquest finds

The death seven years ago of an American missionary priest, Fr John Kaiser, who had helped teenagers pursue rape allegations against a former Kenyan government minister, was murder and not suicide an inquest has found.

The International Herald Tribune reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated Fr Kaiser's death in 2000 at the Kenyan government's invitation and concluded the Roman Catholic shot himself.

But Senior Principal Magistrate Maureen Odero, who presided over the Kaiser inquest, characterised the FBI's investigation as "seriously flawed, superficial and lopsided."

"The court totally rejects the FBI report and in particular the court rejects the conclusion and findings therein indicating that Father Kaiser took his own life," said Odero.

"Based on the evidence before this inquest, the court concludes that Fr Kaiser met his death as result of culpable homicide."

She said that based on the evidence given she was not able to clearly identify who killed Fr Kaiser.

Prosecutor James Mungai declined to comment on the ruling. Mungai had argued that Fr Kaiser committed suicide.

"It is a great job. Our aim was to vacate the suicide theory and we hope that investigations will now be done properly," said Mbuthi Gathenji, the lawyer representing Fr Kaiser's family and order of the Mill Hill Missionaries.

Kaiser - a 67 year-old native of Perham, Minnesota, who had been in Kenya for 35 years - was found dead on the side of a busy highway between the town of Naivasha and Nairobi, the capital, in August 2000. His shotgun was found by his side, and his pickup truck was 10 metres away in a ditch.

The first Kenyan detectives at the scene declared Fr Kaiser's death a homicide, staged to look like a suicide.

Kaiser was known for his crusading human rights work, and had accused some of Kenya's most powerful politicians of being responsible for political violence in 1991-92 that was carried out under the guise of tribal fighting.

He also helped teenage girls pursue cases of rape against a former powerful Cabinet member.

Kenyan inquest finds death of American priest 7 years ago was murder (International Herald Tribune, 1/8/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Fr John Kaiser (Wikipedia)
John Kaiser website

New investigation of missionary's 'suicide' (CathNews, 12/8/03)

New investigation of missionary's 'suicide' (CathNews, 12/8/03)
Kenya nuncio skeptical of FBI conclusion on missionary death (CathNews, 28/8/02)
Kenyan bishops repeat: missionary did not commit suicide (CathNews, 24/8/01)
US State Dept fails to deliver report on murdered missionary (CathNews, 20/12/00)
Outspoken us priest murdered in Kenya (CathNews, 28/8/00)

2 Aug 2007