The New Zealand company which lost one of its New Zealand founders following a break-in at its Kenyan complex last year says inquiries into his slaying has reached a stalemate.

Julian Nathan, 76, was beaten to death in Nairobi in September last year after a group of men broke into a gated compound he was staying at with two other engineers from the New Zealand avocado oil company Olivado.

Nathan, an engineer, was in Kenya helping set up an Olivado processing plant. His son Chris was the company’s managing director.

Olivado chairman Gary Hannam described Nathan’s death as “what appears to be a tragic accident during a break-in and burglary” at the apartment where he was staying.

“The two guards on night duty were arrested and have been charged with negligence leading to murder, and are still in prison, having refused to provide any information to the police about the identity of the burglars,” Hannam said.

The beating occurred during a time of widespread post-election political struggles which Hannam said placed extra burdens on stretched police.

He said former work colleagues of Nathan in Kenya and in the Northland town of Kerikeri took a day off last month to mark his death.

The death nearly halted Olivado’s Kenyan plans but the company decided to keep going, partly with memory of Nathan’s enthusiasm for the product in mind.

Hannam said the Olivado plant was now well-established, gaining organic and fair trade certification for the 464 small farmers who supply the avocados for processing .

“It’s a tribute to Julian Nathan and to the perseverance of the many people involved in this process,” Hannam said.