Kenyan MP arrested over murder of Tristan Voorspuy

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Tristan Voorspuy and Mathew Lempurkel
Mathew Lempurkel (right) was arrested in connection with the murder of Tristan Voorspuy (left)

Kenyan MP Mathew Lempurkel has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in the murder of British farmer Tristan Voorspuy at the weekend.

60-year-old Mr Voorspuy, was shot on Sunday as he rode to check on three houses that had been burnt down on the 24,000-acre Sosian ranch which he co-owned.

The opposition MP for Laikipia North was arrested as he prepared to address the media over the insecurity in Laikipia on Tuesday afternoon.

After spending the night in a police cell he appeared before a magistrate yesterday, where he was charged with inciting violence over the land invasions by armed cattle herders in which two ranches burnt down and several others overrun.

Police indicated Lempurkel was also being investigated in connection with the recent murder of Mr Voorpuy with a spokesman, telling The Times newspaper: “He has been charged with inciting. Once we are through with the investigation there could be a murder charge as well.”

According to farming and conservation groups, as many as 32 herders, smallholders and policemen have been killed since the raids began last year.

In the most recent incident on Tuesday, a mother and two children were shot and had to be airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.

Many of the pastoralists have claimed that the huge tracts of land owned by ranchers, was their ancestral land.

Mr Lempurkel has previously been accused by ranchers of encouraging the violence. Some have even claimed he owned some of the cattle that have been driven on to private land in recent weeks.

Reports in the local media claim that youths wearing T-shirts with the slogan #TeamLempurkel participated in the invasion of the 44,000-acre Suyian ranch where tourist huts were burnt down in January.

Youths wearing similar T-shirts protested outside court yesterday.

Yesterday evening, Lempurkel was freed on a Ksh200,000 bond, following a successful application by Siaya Senator James Orengo, by Principal Magistrate Waititu Gichimu who rejected a plea by the prosecution to detain him for two weeks.

The magistrate said he was not satisfied with the argument by the prosecution that the MP would interfere with investigations, saying: “There is no doubt that as an MP, he has great influence but this cannot satisfy the claim that he will interfere with police.”

A condition of his release was an order to report to the directorate of criminal investigations every three days.

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