Marianne Briner-Mattern was referred to as a “star” witness when she testified to the Parliamentary Select Committee set up to investigate the Ouko murder in 2004 and was welcomed with open arms (Gor Sunguh, the Committee’s Chairman even went to see her in Spain before the hearings). Briner-Mattern agreed to appear only on the basis that she did not face cross-examination (and to date she has never been cross-examined). But her story had changed and several members of the Committee came to wish they had never set eyes on her.
Briner-Mattern made a long rambling statement in London and gave equally odd testimony to the Committee in Nairobi. She had not told the whole story before, she said. She had to careful because her life had been threatened and her phone bugged. The “corruption surrounding the Molasses Project was not the only reason why Dr. Ouko had been killed”, she claimed. “I have therefore decided to also disclose some details of this additional information as least as much as I know”, she declared.
MARIANNE BRINER-MATTERN’S ALLEGED ‘RELATIONSHIP’ WITH MOI
Briner-Matterm claimed she had a “relationship” with President Moi that “goes back to the year 1980/81”. At this stage she still referred to the “relationship” with Moi, later she would term it an “affair”.
“It was the direct reason why I became a Consultant of the Kenyan Government later”… “the eventual disclosure of our relationship and all the intimate knowledge I had, may have been also the real reasons already in 1992 why the Gicheru Commission was stopped” by Moi.
UGANDAN PROSTITUTES’ – A MOTIVE FOR DR OUKO’S MURDER?
“What convinced Moi most to stop (kill) Dr. Ouko was the information”, Briner-Mattern alleged, “that Dr. Ouko had inquired about Moi’s private life and here mainly about the Ugandan girls”.
Briner-Mattern went on to claim that “the most sensitive issue which I had promised not to touch was any information I could give regarding the private life of Moi” and in particular that “Ugandan girls” were “kept at the disposal of the former President, mainly at Nakuru State House, but also at Kabernet Garden”.
“These girls (normally 3 of them to make sure that at least one was always “available”) were kept after arrival in Kenya under “isolation” until their clean health status was confirmed”, she said.
Dr Ouko, she claimed, “knew about them” and had told her that “one or two of these girls got pregnant” and were therefore “sterilized to avoid similar problems in future”.
It was to keep all this quiet, Briner-Mattern claimed, that Dr Ouko was murdered.
BRINER-MATTERN: WHERE WAS THE EVIDENCE?
And how did Briner-Mattern claim that she knew this story? She claimed that Nicholas Biwotthad told her.
It was incredible and utterly unbelievable. Briner-Mattern was claiming that a man who according to own testimony over the years she had hardly ever met (if at all) and whom she claimed was her bitterest enemy, sat down one day and said to her, “Oh yes, did I ever tell you about the Ugandan prostitutes we keep for President Moi?”
In 37 pages of testimony given in London in February 2005, Marianne-Briner Mattern did not provide one piece of evidence, just a series of unsubstantiated and increasingly wild allegations. Any objective observer reading her testimony is left with the firm impression that it says far more about the state of Briner-Mattern’s mind than it does about the guilt or otherwise of those she accuses.
In the fourteen years from Dr Ouko’s murder to the day that Briner-mattern gave her testimony to the Select Committee, there is no record of her having ever mentioned the allegations of prostitutes and President Moi. The supposed “affair” with Moi is barely credible and the idea that Biwott would have told Briner-Mattern about it is utterly unbelievable.
Again Briner-Mattern did not face cross-examination. Again she did not produce a shred of evidence. The evidence she claimed she once had of corruption over the Kisumu Molasses Project she said she was now unable to produce as the files had been stolen in Tanzania and taken out to sea! And now she was saying the ‘corruption report’ was really about Ugandan prostitutes.
MARIANNE BRINER-MATTERN, THE SUNGUH COMMITTEE…
It is little wonder that several members of the Select Committee resigned, some others left to take on other posts, and of the ten that were left only six were prepared to sign Gor Sunguh’s report.
Even the Committee members that were left, including Gor Sunguh, showed their frustration with Briner-Mattern’s rambling testimony. They were shortly to have further reasons to regret their reliance on what she had told them.
… AND ALLEGATIONS OF A $465,000 ‘PAY OFF’
In May 2005 the Sunday Standard reported that Briner-Mattern had been ‘at the centre’ of efforts to raise Sh37 million to ‘pay off’ elected MPs to ensure the [Sunguh] report is passed as a prelude to getting Keiyo South MP Nicholas Biwott charged with murder’.
The Standard claimed that the initial ‘pay off’ had been set at Sh28 million ($360,000) ‘but was allegedly revised upwards in subsequent telephone conversations between the Committees chairman, Mr Gor Sunguh, and Mr Airaghi [Briner-Mattern’s business partner]’ and that the pay off was raised to $465,000.
Gor Sunguh ‘vehemently denied’ the allegation, threatened to sue, and described Briner-Mattern’s email correspondence on which the allegations were based as “petty forgeries”.
The Sunday Standard however, stated that the ‘evidence is indisputable’, and that, ‘according to correspondence, the money is also to be used to hire activists, including some members of the Law Society of Kenya, to agitate for the arrest of former President Moi and Biwott’.
The Standard’s article then stated that: ‘The fundraising was discussed by a section of the Sunguh Committee during a meeting that ended at 21.45 GMT during the visit to London in March, according to minutes sent by Briner to Sunday Standard sources in Nairobi’.
BRINER-MATTERN: “I FEARED THAT WOMAN… SHE COULD TRICK YOU”
One member of the Select Committee, Bondo MP Obura Odinga, was reported to have told the Sunday Standard that Briner-Mattern had ‘called and asked to meet the committee members at their Holiday Inn residence in London’ but “I said I did not want to meet her. I feared that woman. I had an impression she could trick you”.
Obura Odinga also reportedly told the Standard that, “When she appeared [in front of the Select Committee], she meandered into all sorts of things. Brinner is a dangerous woman. That’s why some of us declined to meet her”.
WHY EVER WAS MARIANNE BRINER-MATTERN BELIEVED?
Obura Odinga was right. Briner-Mattern was “dangerous” and “she could trick you”. She tricked the British Scotland Yard detective John Troon; she tricked Dr Ouko; she tricked Ouko’s family; and she tricked Sunguh’s Parliamentary Committee. In a way Marianne Briner-Mattern has tricked the people of Kenya for over 20 years.
What the Kenya Forum wants to know is why today, exactly 22 years since the murder of Dr Robert Ouko, are Marianne Briner-Mattern’s fantasies still given even the slightest credence in Kenya?