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Kenyan minister escapes rape trial

THE case against a senior Kenyan minister charged with raping a 14-year-old schoolgirl has been dropped at her request.

Nairobi's chief magistrate has allowed Florence Mpaayei, now 17, to drop rape charges against defence minister, Julius Sunkuli.

Ms Mpaayei's change of heart came a week after a key prosecution witness in the case, Father Anthony John Kaiser, was shot dead by unknown assailants.

Mr Sunkuli denied any involvement in the murder. He said: "I would like the killers of Father Kaiser to be arrested and would be willing to co-operate with the police ... in any way, if that would help to bring the killers to book."

Ms Mpaayei had alleged that the minister raped her repeatedly in his office when she was 14 and that lcal administrator John Ole Rompe and senior policeman Scaver Mbogho kidnapped her after she made the allegation in May. The charges against Mr Ole Rompe and Mr Mbogho of kidnap and conspiring to defeat justice were also dropped.

As soon as the ruling was made, security personnel whisked Ms Mpaayei to an unknown destination while hundreds of Mr Sunkuli's supporters danced outside the courts.

The case was originally brought by Kenya's Federation of Women Lawyers. New lawyers now acting for Ms Mpaayei accused the federation of using the girl and the case to make money. But Judy Thongori, leading counsel for the federation, said that the girl's new backers were simply trying to discredit her organisation.

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