Fresh hope in Julie Ward murder inquiry?

THE father of murdered Suffolk wildlife photographer Julie Ward has returned to Kenya for the first time since a regime change he hopes may help bring his daughter's killer to justice.

THE father of murdered Suffolk wildlife photographer Julie Ward has returned to Kenya for the first time since a regime change he hopes may help bring his daughter's killer to justice.

Hotelier John Ward flew to Nairobi on Monday in the anticipation that sweeping reforms promised by new leader Mwai Kibaki may progress the hunt for his daughter's murderer. He was meeting officials from the new administration.

During his stay he said: "I have got a number of contacts here in the new government which I would want to talk to, and I know they also want to talk to me.

"I hope to start meeting with them as soon as possible."


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It is the first time Mr Ward, from Brockley Green, near Bury St Edmunds, has returned to the country since Daniel arap Moi's much-criticised administration relinquished power on December 29.

Speaking following the change in leadership, Mr Ward, who has tirelessly campaigned to bring his daughter's killer to justice, said Mr Kibaki's appointment could "thrown open" the case surrounding Julie's murder in September 1988.

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Her charred remains were discovered in the Masai Mara game reserve. Despite two prosecutions against separate defendants, no-one has ever been convicted of killing the 28-year-old.

Mr Ward has long expressed frustration with the efforts made by the Kenyan authorities in investigating the case - they claimed the safari photographer had died after being attacked by wild animals.

But following Mr Kibaki's appointment, Mr Ward said he hoped any possible cover-up, designed to protect either the tourist industry or certain individuals in Kenya, would be unravelled.

"This is something I have been waiting a long time for," he said, speaking in December. "The change which has taken place could throw this whole thing open again. We will have to wait and see what Mr Kibaki can bring us.

"A judge in a Kenyan high court rules there might have been a cover-up concerning Julie's case, not necessarily to protect tourism, but to protect an individual. That is the area we are most interested in."

Two Masai Mara park rangers stood trial for Miss Ward's killing in 1992 following a Scotland Yard investigation, and both were found not guilty. During the hearing, the judge criticised the "flawed" police investigation which brought the men to court.

And in 1999, following years of campaigning by Mr Ward, the chief warden at the Masai Mara game reserve, Simon Ole Makallah - who gave evidence during the original trial in 1992 - was in court charged with Julie's murder. However, insufficient evidence saw the case dismissed.

In his inaugural speech, Mr Kibaki promised sweeping reforms to the African country, including an end to corruption.

He described his predecessor Daniel arap Moi's leadership - during which time Mr Ward made nearly 100 trips to Africa to try and uncover the truth behind his daughter's death - as years of "misrule and ineptitude".

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