Friday, October 24, 2008

With trepidation...

I publish this simply because I try to report any information I have. I will keep my personal opinions to myself on this issue.

I am innocent, says Kaiser’s kin

Published on 15/10/2008

By Lucianne Limo

He is the man who allegedly saw Father John Anthony Kaiser, the late priest at Lolgorian Church in Ngong, watching a movie of a priest who shot himself dead.

He was a close friend to the Mill Hill priest, who the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) said committed suicide by shooting himself dead.

But despite his close ties with the priest, an inquest into the death of the Catholic priest ruled that this man needed to be further investigated in connection with the death.

Now the former catechist, who was adversely mentioned during the inquiry into the father’s death, has come out to clear his name.

Francis Kiisikirr Kantai, who served with the Mill Hill priest at Lolgorian Church, Ngong wants fresh investigations carried out to deal with the culprits once and for all.

Kantai says he has been restless since a court recommended that he be investigated further for any possible role in the killing.

Bothering questions

The allegations, which he vehemently denies, have made him a very bitter man, considering that besides having worked as Kaiser’s aide, he is also married to the priest’s cousin, Camille.

"Why would I kill the priest?" is the question that he has repeatedly asked.

"I had very good relations with him. He was my friend, my mentor and pastor and in the last few months to his death I was like a son to him," Kantai says.

Kantai now resides in the Unites States where he moved to in 2003.

Kaiser’s body was found along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway in Naivasha on August 24, 2000. He had a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

An inquest into his death presided by Nairobi magistrate, Maureen Odero, was concluded last year.

Though the court didn’t establish the killers, the magistrate singled out Kantai together with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) game rangers Samuel Kortom, Joseph Kupasar and Daniel Suya as people who needed to be investigated further.

The magistrate ruled that Kantai knew more on the matter than he had testified. She said he needed to be further interrogated.

His conduct just before Kaiser’s death raised many questions, the court ruled.

His evidence was, in the court’s view, "unreliable, evasive and contradictory" besides his admission that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

He disappeared after Kaiser’s death and never attended his funeral, as would be expected of a friend.

Attorney General Amos Wako directed the Commissioner of Police to reopen the investigations.

"I cannot rest until my name has been cleared. The police should start investigating so that the people who murdered the priest can be brought to book," Kantai told CCI by telephone from Nebraska, USA.

He expresses concern that the Mill Hill Catholic Church was no longer interested in pursuing the truth on the matter.

"Why has the church gone quiet? They were very vocal before the inquest," he says.

Kantai says he is ready to come to Kenya to clear his name. He says police have not yet contacted him adding that he is not on the run.

"Police have not contacted me so far although I am not sure there is anything I didn’t tell them. What new questions could they have for me now?" he wonders.

"Although I highly welcome any investigations, I feel like I am being sacrificed, abandoned, and betrayed by my country and my church. Those people who testified at the inquest were selected to implicate me," he adds.

Church’s betrayal

He says the church further betrayed him by refusing to solemnise their marriage with Camille.

Kantai and Camille have four children, Georgina 12, who is still residing in Kenya, Nakuyo 4, Lepiro 2, and Nyamalo two months.

Kantai says as his relationship with Father (as he fondly called Kaiser) grew, the priest started allocating him responsibilities like going to pay school fees for the students he was sponsoring or cash to discharge people from hospital.

"He would also send me to represent him at school board meetings, something other priests did not like," he adds.

Kantai says he first worked for Kaiser as a catechist.

"Later, he asked me to recommend another catechist to work for him so that I could assist him full time in his quest for justice and peace in Kenya," he says.

He lived with Kaiser since he was posted to Lolgorian.

Kantai recalled his last moments with Kaiser.

He says he had gone to meet him at Mill Hill House and found him watching a movie of a priest who shot himself.

"I sat behind him and watched him rewind this clip three times. The fourth time I thought he was doing this while waiting for me, so I made my presence known by calling his name. Father then stood up and said Twende," he recalls.

He says the priest ejected the videotape out of the machine.

Kantai described Kaiser as his rock and he did everything to please him.

"He was my whole world and I knew without him, I couldn’t survive. My work and everything I knew was in him. I remember that when Father went home, the priest who came to take care while he was away sent me home. I loved my job and could not have done anything that would jeopardise that," he says.

"I met this girl who was Kaiser’s relative and he was the only link I had to her," he explains of how he met Camille.

"When I was testifying, the Catholic Church lawyer Mbuthi Gathenji accused me of conspiring with the then Internal Security Minister Julius Sunkuli to kill Kaiser. Now that Sunkuli has been cleared who then could have hired me?" he ponders.

Kantai says he migrated to the US in October 2003 to be with his wife and not to escape justice.

"My wife returned to the US for medical reasons and I was unable to obtain a visa until after our first child was born," he adds.

He says the last time he was in Kenya was in August 2006 when he attended Kaiser’s memorial mass in Lolgorian.