I was poisoned as I ate fish in Kisumu – Scotland Yard detective John Troon
Posted by African Press International on March 4, 2016
By Dennis Onsarigo Friday, Feb 19th 2016 at 09:50
Days after Dr Robert Ouko, went missing on the night of February 12, 1990, the Kenyan embassy in London contacted the British government.
The government of the day wanted the assistance of the United Kingdom’s‚ serious crimes’ unit at Scotland Yard to unravel the mysterious death of the Foreign Affairs Minister whom it theorised, had committed suicide.
Scotland Yard shipped in Superintendent John Troon to spearhead investigations.
With a team of 60 police officers under him, Troon oversaw a complex homicide full of heavy political undertones and lukewarm reception from senior police officers and government officials.
From Cornwall South West of United Kingdom, KTN ’s Case Files met John Troon. Dressed in a yellow court, tall and strolling across the quiet town of Cornwall, Troon greeted us in Swahili “abari yenu”.
See also: You killed him, you burnt him now eat him- Drama during Dr Ouko’s funeral
John Troon now listens with a hearing aid running down the side of his left ear. He has since retired from the Scotland Yard police department and moved South of London.
He is no longer the cherubic young detective seen carrying a box of evidence during the Ouko murder investigations, 26 years ago.
Troon says before boarding a commercial plane to Nairobi, the UK government informed his team that they were dealing with a murder, not suicide as the Kenyan government had announced to the rest of the country.
Dr Ian West, a renowned forensic pathologist, now deceased, accompanied John Troon and three other police constables.
Troon recalls the first person he met at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport was Jonah Anguka, the then District Commissioner for Nakuru “who told me, he was the man in-charge.”
The following day, John Troon witnessed an autopsy on the body of Dr Robert Ouko.
“In the middle of the postmortem, we exchanged glances, from behind the masks we were wearing, it was obvious the minister had been murdered,” he says.
Also conducting his own autopsy was the chief government pathologist, Dr Jason Kaviti.
Kaviti, either under instruction or something, advanced the theory that from his findings, the minister had committed suicide. We told him the minister had been murdered.
Then there was Hezekiah Oyugi, PS for Internal Security and the then Police Commissioner, Philip Kilonzo, both deceased.
“Philip asked us if we were sure; because apparently they were certain that the minister had committed suicide,” recalls Troon, adding that they realised the government had made up its mind that the minister had committed suicide.
“It was a difficult place to start from, I demanded that my team be given terms of reference. We wanted powers to arrest, detain and interrogate suspects. The Commissioner of Police was not amused,” reveals Troon
“For two days he kept on telling my team that he was awaiting instructions from his superiors, I threatened him, I told him we were ready to call our embassy in Nairobi and head back home,” says Troon, smiling.
That evening, the Troon team were given their term of reference: they were police officers on Kenyan soil with unfettered access to information and persons of interest they wanted to investigate.
The British detectives were faced with deliberate obstacles every time they made progress. That included poor preservation of the crime scene.
“The scene was contaminated. When I asked why the scene was tampered with, I was told that government vehicles were driven to the site. But it was clear from the rocks in the place that it was unlikely vehicles could get to the scene of the murder,” recalls Troon. He adds that forensic evidence collected from the scene of the murder days before his team arrived were not properly stored. Some of it was deliberately mixed with soil and fingerprints lifted from Ouko’s ?rearm and were deliberately compromised, making investigations quite difficult.
Hours after Ouko’s body was discovered, a team of Special Branch o?cers went to his Koru home, headed straight to his bedroom and carted away ?les. One of his bodyguards had seen him read through the ?les when he drove him home after his trip to the United States. When Troon got close to the truth, orders came ?ying right, left and centre.
“Paul Kobia, the then Nyanza Provincial Commissioner, called me one day and told me I have to stop. I was getting too close. That was a threat right there, someone was not happy,” says Troon, adding that, “Everytime I interrogated a suspect, the Specia lBranch picked the same suspect up in the dead of the night and interrogated him before taking him back to the cells. I protested to the Commissioner of Police who feigned ignorance. When I threatened to report him to my embassy in Nairobi, the interrogations stopped.”
Troon was pursuing several leads: a trip in which Dr Ouko fell out with a fellow Cabinet colleague, a corruption dossier to expose government o?cials who were receiving kickbacks from the Italian ma?a, and another on the controversial Kisumu molasses plant.
Things then took an ugly turn for the investigators. Troon was poisoned in a Kisumu restaurant where he loved having ?sh and ugali. “I had taken two bites from my plate when I was suddenly hit by a painful wave in my stomach. I started sweating and was losing breath. My vision was blurred,” recalls Troon. “Luckily, I had my travelling bag with me. It was procedural and required that every o?cer carry a medical bag. I pumped myself with morphine before I was rushed to a clinic in Kisumu town,” he continues.
Troon would later recuperate, but as his team went around the ?nal corner, the government announced it was setting up a commission of inquiry into the murder. John Troon’s team was disbanded.