Three days ago the Kenya Forum said we would return to the subject of a long article (which therefore required some consideration) by lawyer Alfred Nyandieka entitled‘Biwott Defends Record on Molasses, Ouko Death’ that was published in the Weekend Star last Saturday. In doing so we can add one or two interesting little facts not referred to by Mr Nyandieka.
Nyandieka’s article was published in response to one published previously in the Weekend Starentitled, ‘Kisumu Molasses factory: How did the Odingas get it?’ (Siasa, August 18/19) by Ms Sarah Elderkin, described as ‘a freelance journalist’, in which she set out, also at length, her versions and justification of how it was that the Kisumu Molasses plant came to be owned by Spectre International Ltd, a company associated with the Odinga family.
Whether she wrote the article in response to allegations in Miguna Miguna’s book ‘Peeling Back the Mask’, or an ongoing case in Kenya’s High Court over the alleged misuse of publicly collected funds in the purchase of the Kisumu Molasses plant, only Ms Elderkin can say.
Regular Kenya Forum readers will know that we have investigated in detail, the facts and myths surrounding the murder of Dr Robert Ouko in February 1990. We have cross-referenced Alfred Nyandieka’s article against our own files and found it to be factually correct in respect of all publicly available information in our possession.
We must add that all Kenya Forum correspondents were asked if they have ever met Mr Alfred Nyandieka: none have.
KISUMU MOLASSES PLANT ALLEGATIONS
In her article Sarah Elderkin spent a considerable amount of time re-hashing allegations that a motive for Ouko’s murder was to stop him revealing corruption and the payment of “kickbacks” over the revitalisation of the Kisumu Molasses plant in the late 1980’s, in which she named Nicholas Biwott, Minister for Energy at the time of Ouko’s death. Why she did so at such length when the story of the Odinga family’s link to the Kisumu Molasses plant really only begins in 1995, again only she can say.
Alfred Nyandieka, Biwott’s lawyer, set out to ‘rubbish’ these allegations and did so.
There is no need for the Kenya Forum here to go over Nyandieka’s arguments and the facts
that he revealed, readers can judge for themselves by reading the article.
The Kenya Forum can add to the story however, particularly regarding the person who Nyandieka quite rightly points to as virtually the only source of the allegations, one Marianne Briner-Mattern.
Briner-Mattern was supposedly a director of a Swiss company called BAK, and variations on that name, who together with her partner Domenico Airaghi was brought in by Dr Ouko to arrange a feasibility study of the Kisumu Molasses project and funding from Italy for its completion. They failed to do so and turned out to be fraudsters (in Airaghi’s case a convicted fraudster) in charge of an all but non-existent company.
BRINER-MATTERN – SERIAL ACCUSATIONS
What Alfred Nyandieka’s article did not reveal and neither did Sarah Elderkin’s (but surely as a ‘veteran journalist she must have known), was that Ms Marianne Briner-Mattern made many other allegations.
Marianne Briner-Mattern, who was Scotland Yard’s, Gor Sunguh’s at the Parliamentary Committee’s investigation, and Sarah Elderkin’s principal witness, was a serial accuser.
‘RELATIONSHIP’ WITH MOI, ‘ATTACKED’ BY JEFF KOINANGE
She claimed, for instance, to have had a “relationship” with former President Moi from which she derived “intimate” knowledge.
She later went on to allege that she had been attacked by television interviewer and presenter Jeff Koinange (an allegation over which, in part, he lost his job at CNN) and released what purported to be emails and phone call conversations between them. The reason for her anger? Jeff Koinange had not got Briner-Mattern on to the Oprah Winfrey show.
SCOTLAND YARD ‘COVER-UP’
Before the Scotland Yard detective John Troon had even completed his investigations in Kenya, Briner-Mattern had written to his senior officer, “basically accusing myself and the Kenyan authorities of a cover-up”, he told the Commission of Inquiry on 14 November, 1991.
PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ‘PAY OFF’
Even as their ‘star witness’ Briner-Mattern also turned on members of Gor Sunguh’s Parliamentary Committee accusing some of them of accepting a $465,000 ‘pay off’ according to an article in The Sunday Standard published in May 2005, which also alleged that, ‘according to correspondence, the money is also to be used to hire activists, including some members of the Law Society of Kenya, to agitate for the arrest of former President Moi and Biwott’ (Sunguh ‘vehemently denied’ the allegation).
THREATENED TO SUE PUBLISHER
Part of Briner-Mattern’s scheme at the Parliamentary Committee’s investigation was to publicise her book ‘A Shining Star in the Darkness’ but this too did not end happily either. Briner-Mattern accused the book’s publisher, a Mr Sam Okello, of ripping her off and threatened to sue him, subsequently publishing the book free online (the printed version sold only a handful of copies).
“HER ENTIRE STORY MAY BE A FAKE” – RAILA ODINGA
Briner-Mattern also crossed swords with none other than Raila Odinga, ‘apparently unhappy with Raila for including a certain cabinet minister – with whom she did not see eye
to eye – in a delegation that would meet her in Switzerland to discuss the revival of the controversial Kisumu Molasses plant’ As a result she claimed to have ‘scuttled’ Odinga’s chances of becoming Kenya’s third president. (All Africa article ‘Briner: I Scuttled Raila Power Plan’, 23 February, 2004).
Raila Odinga reportedly told the East African Standard that Briner-Mattern had written to him when he sought to revive the Molasses plant and that she said she would introduce him to useful contacts to assist him. However, he said that their correspondence did not amount to much, but she was later to demand money from him in what he thought amounted to extortion. “If that is what she is saying,” Raila said, “then her entire story may be fake.” That quotation was not included in Sarah Elderkin’s article.
LIVES RUINED, HISTORY SUBVERTED
The ever changing and utterly uncorroborated testimony of Ms Marianne Briner-Mattern, testimony that has been totally discredited for many years, diverted the search for the real murderers of Dr Robert Ouko and subverted the history of Kenya. Meanwhile people’s lives were ruined by her multiple and vitriolic allegations.
Only by the media in Kenya honestly and accurately reporting the facts, be the journalists concerned ‘freelance’, ‘veteran’, or otherwise Ms Elderkin, can the truth be known.
The Kenya Forum once again congratulates The Star for having the courage to allow some of the truth to be published.
*Referred to in Raila Odinga’s autobiography ‘the Flame of Freedom’ as ‘Brenda Brimmer-Martens’ (Book ‘written with Sarah Elderkin’).