Trial opens colonial wounds

NAIROBI - The trial of a UK aristocrat charged with shooting and killing a trespasser on his ancestral ranch resumed yesterday after a three-month break.

NAIROBI - The trial of a UK aristocrat charged with shooting and killing a trespasser on his ancestral ranch resumed yesterday after a three-month break.

Thomas Cholmondeley, son of the fifth Baron Delamere and great-grandson of Kenya's most prominent early settler, is charged with killing poacher Robert Njoya in May last year.

So far, the prosecution has called for 30 witnesses.

Cholmondeley faces a death sentence if convicted, though Kenya has not carried out a death sentence since 1987.

Cholmondeley, who in 2005 escaped murder charges over the killing of another Kenyan on his property, about 90km northwest of Nairobi, has pleaded not guilty in a case that has torn open old colonial-era wounds.

He says he accidentally shot Njoya after being threatened by men on the Delamere's Soysambu ranch in the Rift Valley, where crime against Europeans has been on the rise.

But prosecutors say Cholmondeley intentionally shot Njoya while he was running away and then tried to cover up the crime by tampering with evidence at the scene.

Cholmondeley's cases have received particular attention because of his family history.

His great-grandfather, the third Baron Delamere, was a key player in the UK's colonisation of Kenya, overseeing the settlement of the "white highlands".

In 1955 his grandfather gained notoriety when he married Diana Broughton, a central figure in the murder of her lover Josslyn Hay, the 22nd Earl of Errol.

The saga was recounted in James Fox's book White Mischief, which was later made into a film. - Sapa-AFP

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