August 10, 2007 / 4:15 PM / in 11 years

Kenya acquits four in British film maker killing

An undated photograph shows British filmmaker and naturalist Joan Root, who was shot and killed by attackers at her farm on January 13, 2006 in South Lake Naivasha, 90 km northwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi. REUTERS/Handout

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan court on Friday acquitted four men charged with the murder of celebrated British film maker and naturalist Joan Root last year.

The conservationist was shot in her home in Naivasha, about 90 km northwest of the capital. Magistrates said the evidence from 13 witnesses against the four suspects was defective.

“The investigation was shoddy,” said magistrate Nicholas Njagi. “None of the witnesses positively identified the accused as being on the scene during the incident.”

Attackers broke through Root’s bedroom window and shot her in her bed three times at point blank range using an AK-47 rifle in January last year. The victim was 69.

The four suspects, one of whom worked for the film maker, were released to their tearful families after being kept over a year on remand.

Known for braving the wrath of hippos and spitting cobras in front of the camera, Root made films commemorating African wildlife and aiding conservation efforts during the 1970s.

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