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Descendent Of Colonial Founder Facing Murder Trial In Kenya


In Kenya, the descendent of a prominent British colonial family has been charged with capital murder over a shooting of an alleged poacher that occurred on his ranch earlier this month. This is the second time the aristocrat is facing murder charges.

Thomas Cholmondeley pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, which was read out in a Nairobi court Wednesday.

Cholmondeley stands accused of murdering Robert Njoya on May 10 on his 100,000 - acre ranch in Kenya's Rift Valley.

At the time of his highly publicized arrest, the British aristocrat argued that Njoya and several other men suspected to be poachers set dogs upon him, and that he shot the dogs and inadvertently hit Njoya in self defense.

Cholmondeley's lawyer, Fred Ojiambo, says he fears that his client may not get a fair hearing because of all the publicity in the case.

"Quite frankly, I feel under the circumstances of the case that it is very difficult for anyone to have a fair trial," said Fred Ojiambo.

This is the second time in a little more than a year that Cholmondeley has been charged with murder. Last year, he shot and killed Kenya Wildlife Service ranger Samson Ole Sasina, also on his ranch. Cholmondeley claimed that he was acting in self-defense.

The charges were dropped for lack of evidence, sparking a huge outcry against the government.

The case brings to the surface simmering resentments in the Rift Valley, where British families set up huge farms during the colonial era at the expense of the local population.

The case also gained publicity because of Cholmondeley's family history. His great-grandfather Hugh, the third Baron Delamere, was a major figure in Kenya's colonization by the British.

Kenya achieved independence from Britain in 1964.

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