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Bensouda team threatened dead ICC witness, Ruto claims

13 January 2015, 18:53 William Korir

Nairobi  - Meshack Yebei, the ICC defence witness who was found murdered last week had been threatened by a member of the prosecution team, DP William Ruto's team has claimed.

Yebei disappeared from his home near Turbo on 28 December 2014 and was found dead Friday 2 January 2015 in a mortuary.

Yebei disappeared in Turbo after he allegedly went to look for drinking water for his child and days after his family reported his disappearance to police, his body was found in a thicket on the banks of River Yala many kilometers from his home.

Ruto had earlier claimed that there was mischief in the disappearance and murder and blamed the incident on the prosecution.

Last week though, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda claimed Yebei was corrupt and was part of a team that had been set up to persuade witnesses quit the case.

But in a rejoinder Tuesday, Ruto's Lawyer Karim Khan insisted that there had been prior knowledge that Yebei's life was under threat and that nothing had been done about it.

He further blamed the Witness Protection Unit WTU for what happened and read mischief in their reaction towards the death threats.

" The defence has recently learned that the prosecution was fully on notice, months before the alleged abduction and murder of Mr Yebei, that he had been threatened with abduction by one of the prosecution’s own witnesses," he alleged in a statement.

He also said that in light of the evidence, he had requested the WTU to state the action it took in the aftermath of learning of the threat posed on Yebei.

" I have requested information from the Prosecution as to what steps it took to alert the VWU of the information it received from one prosecution witness that Mr Yebei had been threatened with abduction by another prosecution witness. I am still awaiting a response from the Prosecution to this enquiry," he said.

Yebei was an outspoken voice against injustices that took place during the post election violence in 2008 and was not shy on speaking matters ICC.

Moses Kisorio, Yebei's elder brother, said that he was bundled into a vehicle on that fateful day and was never to be seen alive again and intimated that his brother had on a number of times felt uneasy with his life.

" He had been sent several warning messages about his life. It is not a mystery that this has happened, rather that we feel the police have something to do with this, he told News24.

The ongoing trial facing DP Ruto and co accused Joshua Sang has been plagued by accusations and counter accusations on both sides regarding the safety and misuse of witnesses.

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