Archbishop's web site Denver Catholic Register Parishes Catholic Pastoral Center

February 21, 2001


Senator offers update on Father Kaiser investigation

Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota told relatives and friends of Mill Hill Father John Kaiser that the U.S. investigation into the missionary's death in Kenya is expected to conclude in March.

Human rights activists also were among the 30 people briefed by Wellstone Feb. 4 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Wellstone, at a press conference afterward, said he was pressing for an "independent investigation'' without involvement by Kenyan authorities.

Father Kaiser's supporters believe the Kenyan government may be tied to the priest's death because he blamed many human rights abuses during his 36 years in Kenya on government officials.

Wellstone called the Kenyan government "corrupt.'' He said U.S. interests in nurturing political and economic ties with Kenya must not undermine the investigation.

"We have one determined human rights and religious community, and we want human rights at the top,'' Wellstone said. "We're going to press very hard to get at the bottom of this.''

Wellstone sponsored a Senate resolution last year asking a thorough investigation. The House passed a similar resolution.

Father Kaiser, 67, was a native of the St. Cloud Diocese, born in Perham and raised in Underwood. He was found dead Aug. 24 along a road near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

An Associated Press report last December said FBI investigators were considering whether Father Kaiser committed suicide. But Wellstone said the FBI denies having concluded this and hopes to finish its investigation in March.

Mary Mahoney, Father Kaiser's niece, said the missionary's supporters want to know who was responsible for his death. They also hope that the attention generated will raise awareness about Kenya's human rights situation and cause changes.

The case has drawn media attention. The British Broadcasting Corp. is planning an hourlong documentary, said St. Cloud Diocese's Mission Office director, Father Bill Vos.

The CBS television news program "60 Minutes'' filmed the Feb. 4 press conference for a future report. - CNS


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