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Catholic World News News Feature

FBI Releases Report On Death Of US Missionary In Kenya April 19, 2001

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr. 19, 01 (CWNews.com) - The US FBI released a report on Thursday following their investigation into the death of an American missionary priest whose death last year sparked an outcry and claims that he was murdered.

The FBI report says 67-year-old Father John Kaiser's gunshot wound to the head was self-inflicted. "During the course of this investigation, no indications of crime developed," Thomas Carey, assistant special agent in charge of the investigation, said at a news conference. Father Kaiser was found dead along a highway on August 24 last year with his shotgun near him. "The manner of Father Kaiser's death is most consistent with death resulting from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," Carey said.

Church leaders, human rights groups, and US Sen. Paul Wellstone from Father Kaiser's home state of Minnesota have rejected the suicide claim and believe he was murdered for criticizing members of the Kenyan government. Kaiser had worked in Kenya for 35 years and had been involved in publicizing alleged official human rights abuses and had accused a member of President Daniel Arap Moi's office of sexually abusing young women in his parish.

Wellstone said he was "very, very skeptical" of the FBI report and claimed the investigation was carried out "in a climate of fear." He promised Kaiser's family and friends that he would continue his campaign in Washington to pursue justice.

Carey and four other FBI agents said all leads had been followed, more than 200 interviews conducted and a leading gunshot-wound analysis expert consulted in the course of the investigation. Dr. Vicent Di Maio, chief medical examiner in Bexar County, Texas, concluded the wound that caused Kaiser's death was self-inflicted. Di Maio did not see the body, but he had access to morgue photos.

Father Kaiser had claimed in the days before his death that his life was in danger and told colleagues that he had angered people in power. The FBI report called those claims evidence of erratic behavior and noted the priest had been hospitalized several times for "mental problems."

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