New probe promised into Julie murder

A FRESH probe into the death of East Anglian photographer Julie Ward is to be opened nearly 17 years after her brutal murder on the Masai Mara game reserve.

A FRESH probe into the death of East Anglian photographer Julie Ward is to be opened nearly 17 years after her brutal murder on the Masai Mara game reserve.

Kenya's Justice Minister Kiraitu Murungi said yesterday a new murder investigation will be launched and vowed "maximum support" to ensure justice is finally done.

He made the announcement following a crunch meeting with her father John Ward in Nairobi, who presented high-ranking government officials in Kenya with a number of "significant" new leads.

Mr Ward, who has made over 100 trips to Kenya ever since his daughter was killed, is confident her killers can still be caught and convicted.

Talking to the EADT from his Nairobi hotel last night, he said: "I am delighted that the new Kenyan government has agreed to re-open the case. I presented them with five significant new leads and asked them to re-look at old evidence from people who lied the first time around because they where frightened under the old regime and may be prepared to tell the truth this time around.

"I am sure things will move very quickly in Kenya now because the new Government is keen to draw a line under this case. I have achieved everything I came here to do and I am sure this is a crime that can still be solved."

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Following yesterday's meeting, which also involved Kenya's director of public prosecutions Philip Murgor, Mr Murungi released an official statement to announce a fresh inquiry would be launched and that the new Kenyan Government was determined to bring Ms Ward's killers to justice.

"For us the Julie Ward saga has been a major challenge to the system of administration of justice. I have promised Mr Ward maximum support from the government to ensure justice is done."

Last year, during the first British inquest into Ms Ward's death, held in Ipswich, the minister vowed to re-open the case if new evidence came to light in a bid to rid the nation of its "ugly" past under the Daniel Arap Moi governmental regime.

He will now set-up a task force to review the evidence presented in the 1990s, when three Kenyan citizens were acquitted of Ms Ward's murder during two separate trials.

He has also promised to consider the new evidence handed to him by Mr Ward and new leads that emerged during the Ipswich inquest.

Mr Murungi said he would also welcome the assistance from British police forces in the inquiry, but left it up to Mr Ward to decide whether that should be from Scotland Yard or Lincolnshire police.

Dave Armond, head of the Yard's murder squad, recently offered to back any new investigation, but Lincolnshire police recently completed a four-year independent inquiry into the original murder investigation.

The Lincolnshire force was called in after Mr Ward claimed the Kenyan authorities, the British Foreign Office, Scotland Yard and even MI6 may have colluded to prevent him from bringing his daughter's killers to justice.

The report has now been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which is expected to make the findings public later this year.

Ms Ward, who was 28 when she died, was nearing the end of an eight-month trip photographing wildlife in Kenya when she was brutally murdered and dismembered on the Masai Mara in September 1988.

Initially, the Kenyan authorities claimed wild animals had eaten her, but after her father, who lives near Bury St Edmunds, found her charred and mutilated remains scattered across the safari park they finally admitted she was the victim of a grisly murder.

Mr Ward said yesterday: "This is the strongest position we have been in for 15 years as the new government will be working with me, rather than against me."

Mr Ward is now deciding whether to stay in Kenya to carry out further inquiries or to come home to arrange meetings with the British police forces.

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