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Lawyer Martyn Day
"Clealy there are still pieces of the jigsaw to still fit together"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
UK army denies Kenya cover-up
Bomb being defused
Local herdsmen complain of ordnance being left around
The British army has denied allegations that it is involved in a deliberate cover-up of evidence in Kenya, where people wounded by unexploded munitions on military training areas used by British soldiers are seeking compensation.


The evidence is that the British... have left a significant proportion of live bombs hanging around the area

Lawyer
Martyn Day
An army spokesman in London said the training areas were the responsibility of the Kenyan authorities - but the army was assisting them by expanding its operations to dispose of unexploded ordnance.

Lawyers acting for a group of 40 Kenyans in their attempts to sue the UK army say they are confident they have a strong case.

Solicitors from the UK law firm Leigh and Day have been gathering evidence in Kenya over the past month and they have accused the UK and Kenyan armies of trying to cover it up.

The UK army denies that it abuses Kenya's training facilities and says it does all it can to assist the Kenyans in clearing up the ranges.

'Bombs left in area'

The UK army enjoys training facilities at two Kenyan ranges under an agreement between the two countries.

Lawyer Martyn Day said on Friday that "the evidence is that the British are the far greatest users [of the ranges] and have left a significant proportion of live bombs hanging around the area".

Mr Day acknowledged that the army is now involved in a clean up operation but only under the threat of legal action.

The UK army says that did increase its assistance to the Kenyan authorities in 2000 but this had nothing to do with the legal action.

Kenyan cows
Herdsmen have lost their cattle
He said the case would now go to a British court unless the army was willing to pay compensation out of court.

Umar Abdi, who represents those who say they have been injured, said they decided to bring in lawyers as a last resort.

"People have held workshops, compensation has been claimed, people have talked to the British... but nothing has come up.

"So, unfortunatey, there is no other option apart from the legal action."

It is not just compensation for humans that the herders are seeking, they also want to be compensated for the livestock they have lost.

Tragedy

Community leader Mohamed Sheikh described how one boy lost the bull he was looking after.

"I came across a boy who was proud of his bull... when he came across this shiny, nice looking object.

"He tied it around the bull's neck. The object blew up the bull... the boy himself was almost killed."

If it does go to court the law firm handling the case is optimistic about the outcome.

It has successfully sued the British government once before on behalf of communities affected by the mining of asbestos in Botswana.

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See also:

15 Aug 00 | Africa
Cattle invade Kenya's capital
03 May 00 | Africa
Kenyan police confirm 14 killed
06 Feb 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kenya
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