Should British soldier face Kenyan law for killing a local?

Britain’s longstanding military co-operation agreement with Kenya, is under review after a soldier who shot dead a Kenyan pastoralist has been prevented from leaving the country.

Kenyan authorities have prevented the soldier from returning home despite written agreements between the two countries. The details surrounding the killing are unclear. No charges have been brought against him to date.

“Discussions are under way with the Kenyan government on the terms and conditions under which the British army operates in Kenya, following a shooting incident earlier this year,” the Ministry of Defence told the Financial Times.

Githu Muigai, the attorney-general, confirmed that the memorandum of understanding was under review but said that Kenya’s commitment to working with British soldiers was “unshakeable”.

The British have trained soldiers in Kenya for 40 years. Hot weather and barren scrub help replicate conditions in enemy terrains such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The latest five-year memorandum of understanding – worth at least £24.3m (Sh3.36 billion) to the Kenyan economy a year thanks to a UK obligation to spend that much on running costs – is due to expire in 2015.

This is not the first controversy involving the British military. A former commander of the UK training unit was suspended and court-martialled after a previous shooting incident, and there have been past allegations that British soldiers have raped villagers, although these were dismissed after a three-year UK investigation.

“The shooting incident has called into question our MOU with the Kenyans,” says Colonel Mark Christie, commander of the British Army Training Unit Kenya, of the agreement he says stipulates UK soldiers should be repatriated after any alleged misdemeanour and investigated at home

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