Jerome Starkey, Africa Correspondent
Three men accused of murdering a renowned British gemologist in a row over mining rights have claimed they were nowhere near the spot where he was attacked with clubs, spears and knives, in southern Kenya, four years ago.
Mohammed Dadi Kokane, Alfred Njuruka Makoko and Osman Abdi Hussein were the first of seven suspects accused of murdering Campbell Bridges to give evidence in their defence in a Mombasa court yesterday.
All three denied any involvement in his murder, despite being placed at the scene by at least three eye-witnesses including Mr Bridges’ son, Bruce.
Mr Makoko, who said he was farming onions when Mr Bridges was killed, had vowed to kill the Scottish prospector less than 24 hours earlier, the murder trial heard.
Mr Kokane said he was herding cattle at the time, while Mr Hussein said he had never seen or heard of Mr Bridges, because he never ventured outside his hotel.
Judge Maureen Odero ruled in February that all seven suspects had a case to answer, while a woman, who was not at the scene was acquited.
Mr Bridges, 71, was ambushed by a gang of around 30 men as he drove towards a mining camp near the southern town of Voi, in August 2009. The seven in court were all accused of participating in the attack, on a remote stretch of road which had been deliberately blocked by thorn trees.
Mr Bridges’ case is highly unusual, by virtue of the fact it has come this far. The killers of other high profile Britons, including Julie Ward who was killed in the Masai Mara game reserve in 1988, Alex Monson who was beaten to death in police custody in 2012, and the former British army colonels Edward Loden and David Parkinson, who were shot in separate incidents in 2013, have never been brought to justice.
Britain’s High Commissioner Christian Turner sent a representative to watch yesterday’s proceedings after Mrs Bridges accused the British government had abandoning her quest for justice.
“It makes a statement to the court that other people are watching,” said Judith Bridges, the gemologist’s widow. “It’s an important case, especially if Kenya wants to present itself as a place for [foreign] investors.” (Read more…)