Thursday, December 15, 2005

Doctor taken to task

From the Daily Nation, December 16, 2005:

A top psychiatrist was yesterday taken to task at an inquest over a medical report he made five years ago on the mental health of Catholic priest John Anthony Kaiser.

Lawyer Mbuthi Gathenji accused Dr Frank Njenga of flouting an American Psychiatric Association (APA) rule which prohibited doctors from making such judgement without examining the patient.

Dr Njenga had confirmed, while testifying at an inquiry into Fr Kaiser's death, that he is a member of the association and adhered to its rules.

The psychiatrist said he prepared the report in November 2000 after being requested by then Rift Valley CID boss Joseph Naragwi. He presented it to the inquest in October.

In the 17-page report, Dr Njenga says he received evidence leading to his conclusion that the priest suffered severe mental illness and may have committed suicide.

But he pointed out that it could only be 78 per cent reliable, as he did not receive vital information on Fr Kaiser's childhood and early adult life, or the family history and forensic evidence gathered after the death.

"Mental illness by itself is not protective of the actions of murder," the psychiatrist concluded. "He could have had a mental illness and have been killed. The severity of the mental illness, however, makes suicide a real possibility."

Fr Kaiser, a Mill Hill missionary who headed the Lolgorian Catholic Parish in Ngong, was found dead at Morendant junction on the Nakuru-Naivasha road. His head had been blown off and his shotgun lay nearby.

A team from US Federal Bureau of Investigation, who joined the Kenyan detectives on August 25, concluded that Fr Kaiser committed suicide. But church leaders and human rights lobbyists rejected the report and pressed for an inquest.

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