Man charged with ex-British army officer's murder in Kenya

Bethany Minelle, News Reporter

A Kenyan cattle herder has been charged with the murder of a former British army officer who was found shot dead on a ranch in northern Kenya last month.

Samson Lokayi, 25, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Tristan Voorspuy, saying "I have not killed anyone" when his charge was read in court.

Lokayi, who has been in police custody since his arrest on 10 March, was denied bail despite his lawyer arguing that he was being "punished simply because he is a pastoralist who keeps on migrating in search of pasture".

British military veteran Mr Voorspuy had ridden out on horseback in the Laikipia region on 5 March amid reports that hardcore Samburu militia were still on the rampage as part of their land grab.

His intention had been to inspect the remains of a friend's home that had been burnt down by herders days earlier.

Mr Voorspuy's horse was found shot dead at noon and his body found a few hours later .

When his family attempted to retrieve his body, they were met with a hail of bullets, and said that the Kenyan police refused to intervene.

A former officer in the Life Guards, Mr Voorspuy had worked with locals to protect African farms against the marauding gangs.

Laikipia - formerly a popular tourist hotspot and favourite safari destination of the Britain's Royal Family - has been a tribal battleground for months.

While some believe the land invasions are draught-related, with herders seeking grazing land, others believe political tensions are to blame.

The Laikipia region straddles the geographical ethnic divide between counties who support the government and those who oppose it.

Several Kenyans have been killed and driven off the land by invaders from the Samburu, Pokot and Masai tribes who are heavily armed and use ammunition made in government factories.

Wildlife, including elephants, zebras and buffalo have also been killed as herdsmen move onto the land with their cattle.

Mr Voorspuy's wife, Cindy Voorspuy, told Sky News: "Archie, my son, is still in the thick of it trying to keep the peace and protecting his herders' cattle, game and staff. There will be more troubles to come. Just worry for Kenya."

President Uhuru Kenyatta has been criticised for failing to stop the land invasions in which at least 12 people have so far been killed.

With Kenya's general elections in August, violence is likely to escalate over coming months.

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