Kenya: Fr Kaiser hearings conclude

 A commission of inquiry into the mysterious death of Fr John Anthony Kaiser, which began here on August 15, 2003 wound up its hearing on Friday, March 23. The commission requested by the Catholic bishops in Kenya in close cooperation with the family of the late Fr Kaiser, and the Mill Hill Fathers heard witnesses from 110 people, including two bishops, Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople. Others included security personnel, legal people, a catechist a journalist, and Fr Kaiser's brother Francis. In her court address as she closed down the commission business, principal magistrate, Mrs Maureen Odero said the commission would begin to hear submissions from commissioners from April 30, after which the court will compile its report on the issue. The last witnesses at the commission on March 23 were former director of country's Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Francis Sang, and Police Inspector, Thomas Mage, who closely worked with the FBI personnel during the investigating exercise. They were cross-examined by the defense lawyer, Mbuthi Gathenji on matters relating to their working relationship with the American FBI. The FBI was locked out of the commission after its three senior officers, expected to attend the hearing failed to show up several times. They were: Tom Neer, a specialist in behavioral analysis; Dr. Vincent Di Maio, a forensics specialist; and Bill Corbett, who has worked in counterterrorism. The Principal Magistrate cautioned the media against commenting on the commission work, while in progress. She did this after she was alerted by lawyer James Macharia, of a report in the East African Standard, on 23 March in which a Belfast-based priest, Fr Gabriel Dolan, who had formerly served in Kenya, said in an open letter that he knew why the FBI declined to attend the inquest. A joint investigation into his death by the government and the FBI concluded that the priest had committed suicide. The Catholic Church in Kenya vehemently rejected the findings. Fr Dolan said the US Embassy in Nairobi had attempted to convince religious and human rights leaders of the veracity of the findings. The final report issued by the FBI was "so unprofessional, shoddy and inaccurate that it was indefensible," Fr Dolan said. "Nobody is thus surprised that they failed to attend and defend their findings." He accused the FBI of lacking honesty and integrity when handling the investigation, saying "it is appalling that the US investigative agency is allowed to peddle untruths and get away with it. We can be forgiven for questioning the motivation and scheming behind their callous act."

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