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Police claim body not of dead ICC witness

14 January 2015, 15:27 William Korir

Nairobi - The mystery of the murdered ICC witness Meshack Yebei deepened Wednesday after police claimed that the body identified as his might just not be.

Police in Eldoret investigating his death say that a second family has claimed the body perceived to be Yebei's as one of their relative's a certain Mohammed Yusuf Hussein.

According to police sources, the body's DNA does not match that of Yebei, with fingerprint matches sent from the national data bank also not agreeing with the assertion that it is Yebei, but rather Hussein.

The sources add that the investigations have been put on hold slightly to allow thorough testing of the DNA samples to completely find out who the person at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary is.

" The fingerprints point to something different at the moment so DNA tests are to be done thoroughly to confirm who is at the mortuary, the officer at the CID headquarters in Nairobi who is not authorized to speak on the investigations told News24.

Hussein is allegedly also said to have gone missing in December from his home in Nandi Hills, while Yebei was also found dead along the banks of the river Yala, also in Nandi at the beginning of this year.

The motives for his killing are yet to be known.

Yebei's supposed death has brought forth a shouting match between the defence team for DP William Ruto and the prosecution at the ICC over the witness.

Ruto claimed Tuesday that Yebei, an ICC defence witness had been threatened the prosecution team.

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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