Church links monk's death to bribery protest

 

THE killing by Kenyan police of an Irish Franciscan brother has been linked by the local Catholic church to his fight against corruption.

Brother Larry Timmons was shot last week only a day after he confronted local administrators with allegations of bribery. He had also accused officials of interfering in the allocation of identity cards, which will be required to vote in elections later this year.

"We cannot help but relate the killing with the prior confrontation between our brother and the administration," the diocese of Nakuru said in a statement.

The Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs has also expressed disquiet about the circumstances surrounding the killing. Mr Spring said yesterday a full report had been sought from Ireland's consular representatives in Nairobi on the death of Brother Timmons, whose body arrives back in Ireland today. He promised the case would be pursued urgently through diplomatic channels.

Brother Timmons (47), died last Wednesday morning after police arrived to investigate a robbery at the school where he worked in Lare, near the central Kenyan town of Nakuru.

His death, in circumstances described by his colleagues as "mysterious", prompted allegations of police irresponsibility.

The diocese said last week's killing was the culmination of a series of violent "robberies" of mission centres this month. It asked how the police could have been waiting in the hospital at Nakuru when Brother Timmons was brought there, when there was no means of communication between Lare and Nakuru.

The superior general of the Franciscans, Brother James Mungavan called for a full investigation by the Kenyan authorities.

Brother Timmons had worked in Kenya for almost 20 years, setting up youth projects and teaching in local schools. Brother Mungavan described him as a "goodbeggar" for the poor who endured semi famine conditions in the Lare area. "He was a man of very strong principles and was fearless in exposing what appeared to him as less than honest dealing or fair play," he said.

Three Franciscans were staying in the compound in Lare last Wednesday when up to 20 raiders attacked and killed the night watchman and took about £1,000. The monks co operated with the raiders and Brother Timmons dffered to start a getaway vehicle.

At this point police, who had been alerted by the watchman at an adjoining school, opened fire. Brother Timmons was hit by a single bullet and died instantly.

Brother Timmons will be buried near the order's house in Clara, Co Offaly, tomorrow. He is survived by his parents, Thomas and Nellie Timmons of Delvin, Co Westmeath, six sisters and two brothers.