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British Army loses fight to claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution over Kenya bushfire

British Army loses fight to claim diplomatic immunity from prosecution over Kenya bushfire

The British military has lost its right to diplomatic immunity from lawsuits in Kenya in a landmark ruling over a massive bushfire allegedly started by ‘cocaine-taking’ British soldiers stationed in the African country.

A massive wildfire at Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, a 49,000-acre sanctuary that houses the Nanyuki army base used by Britain for military exercises, broke out in March last year, causing widespread destruction, putting more than 1,000 local residents at risk. ran into drought.

In the ensuing chaos, Linus Murangiri, an employee of the Lolldaiga Conservancy, was crushed by a vehicle as he rushed to help put out the fire, leaving his wife and two sons behind.

The African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) has taken legal action against BATUK seeking damages and reparations because the fire was ’caused by officers from the British Army Training Unit Kenya who tested positive for cocaine’.

BATUK denies that its soldiers started the fire, claiming they were protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity.

But in a landmark ruling, Kenya’s Supreme Court judge Antonina Bore argued that the British government waived diplomatic immunity from legal action by signing an agreement in 2015 setting the conditions under which its soldiers would be allowed to operate in Kenya.

A massive wildfire at Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, a 49,000-acre sanctuary that houses the Nanyuki army base used by Britain for military exercises, broke out in March last year, causing widespread destruction, putting more than 1,000 local residents at risk. ran on drought

A massive wildfire at Lolldaiga Hills Ranch, a 49,000-acre sanctuary that houses the Nanyuki army base used by Britain for military exercises, broke out in March last year, causing widespread destruction, putting more than 1,000 local residents at risk. ran on drought

In the ensuing chaos, Linus Murangiri, an employee of the Lolldaiga Nature Reserve, was crushed by a vehicle as he rushed to help put out the fire, leaving his wife and two sons behind.

In the ensuing chaos, Linus Murangiri, an employee of the Lolldaiga Nature Reserve, was crushed by a vehicle as he rushed to help put out the fire, leaving his wife and two sons behind.

A company of soldiers during a simulated military exercise of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) along with the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) at the ol-Daiga ranch, high on the Kenyan Laikipia plateau on March 26, 2018

A company of soldiers during a simulated military exercise of the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) along with the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) at the ol-Daiga ranch, high on the Kenyan Laikipia plateau on March 26, 2018

The pressure group and locals argued that the terms of a defense cooperation agreement signed seven years ago between Kenya and the British government were “equivalent to a waiver of state immunity” in respect of civilian claims brought as a result of the actions of British soldiers .

The judge agreed that BATUK, as a unit of the British military, has no legal entity separate from the British government.

But she found that the 2015 agreement amounted to a partial waiver of diplomatic immunity.

The judge said that under the terms of the agreement, it is “clear that Kenya would have jurisdiction over civil claims and liabilities arising from activities in its territory under the agreement, while the UK would have jurisdiction over civil claims and liabilities arising out of activities.” on its territory’.

The African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) has taken legal action against BATUK seeking damages and reparations for the fire 'was caused by officers from the British Army Training Unit Kenya who tested positive for cocaine'

The African Center for Corrective and Preventive Action (ACCPA) has taken legal action against BATUK seeking damages and reparations for the fire ‘was caused by officers from the British Army Training Unit Kenya who tested positive for cocaine’

In the picture on the right, Brigadier Lucinda Caryl Westerman, who is BATUK .  runs

In the picture on the right, Brigadier Lucinda Caryl Westerman, who is BATUK . runs

She added: ‘The claim in the petition is that British soldiers caused a massive fire at the military training ground in Lolldaiga, Kenya. Kenya is therefore competent.’

The judge said the agreement “requires the visiting troops to be respectful and sensitive to the traditions, customs and culture of the communities in the places where they have been deployed” and to “pay compensation under the Defense Cooperation Agreement where they became liable.” asked. for causing death, injury, loss or damage to the persons and/or property of members of such local communities’.

“In the court’s view, this clause anticipated the nature of the petitioners’ claims,” ​​she concludes.

The judge ordered that ACCPA and locals must now go through a dispute resolution process to reach an agreement with the UK government.

If no agreement can be reached, the case will return to be tried in Kenyan courts.

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