Julie Ward inquest opens in Ipswich

An inquest into the death of Julie Ward, the British wildlife photographer is to begin, nearly 16 years after her body was found in a Kenyan reserve.

Miss Ward, 28, from Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, disappeared from her campsite in the Masai Mara game reserve on September 7, 1988. She had been on a seven-month trip to Kenya to photograph African wildlife. Her charred and mutilated remains were found six days later, near the campsite. Her jeep had been found earlier in the game reserve with ‘SOS’ written in mud on its roof.

Kenyan authorities originally claimed that Julie Ward had either been attacked and eaten by wild animals or had committed suicide. However, her father, John Ward, uncovered evidence, which revealed that she had been murdered. A Kenyan court ruled in October 1989 that she had been murdered.

Three Kenyan park rangers were tried for Julie’s murder – two Masai Mara rangers were tried and acquitted in 1992. The chief gamekeeper, Simon Ole Makallah, was charged with the murder in 1998 after further investigations, but was also acquitted in 1999.

John Ward, now 70, will be the first to give evidence at the weeklong inquest in Ipswich. He has campaigned for years to get a formal British inquest and has been battling for 16 years to uncover the truth behind his daughter’s death, travelling to Kenya several times over the years.

A former member of the intelligence services and retired Metropolitan police officers will also be among those giving evidence and Lincolnshire police, who have carried out a review of the case, will also present their findings.

A British coroner opened an inquest shortly after Miss Ward died, but there has never been a full hearing.


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