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ICC witness death triggers blame game and confusion

09 January 2015, 08:16

Nairobi - The death of a key witness in the case facing Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has triggered blame game and confusion.

Authorities are yet to unravel the mystery surrounding the death of Meshak Yebei, whose mutilated body was found last week floating in a river near his hometown in Kapsabet in northwest Kenya.

Yebei was abducted on Dec. 28, 2014 by unknown people and conflicting reports indicate he was in Uganda with officials from the ICC. Family members reported Yebei's disappearance to police and searched for him in different locations to no avail.

Speculation has been rife since Friday when Yebei's mutilated body was discovered in a river bank.

It was reported that Yebei was a key ICC witness in the ongoing case involving Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang.

The Judiciary clarified on Tuesday that Yebei was not under its witness protection since he was involved in a criminal case outside the country's jurisdiction.

Likewise, the ICC disclosed that Yebei was no longer under its protection after he withdrew his testimony and relocated to Kenya.

Fireworks reached a climax on Thursday when senior lawmakers allied to the ruling coalition claimed that a north rift-based human rights activist was behind Yebei's murder.

Earlier on, human rights groups alleged that Yebei was a vital ICC witness slated to testify during the case against the Deputy President.

Also read: Int'l Criminal Court concerned by killing of witness

Ruto's lawyer Karim Khan said that Yebei was a defense witness and requested Kenyan authorities to investigate circumstances leading to his death.

Based on the mysterious nature of Yebei's death, Kenyan officials have stepped in to avert spread of rumors that would jeopardize national security.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, has already ordered the Director of Criminal Investigations to commence probe on Yebei's death.

Kenyans are still unable to unravel the mysterious death of Yebei, a 34-year-old political activist.

His family members told the national media that he never disclosed to them of any engagement with the defense or prosecution teams.

The Leader of Majority in Parliament Adan Duale sensationally claimed that Ken Wafula, the Eldoret-based rights activist and the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, knew who killed Yebei.

"The prime suspect is Ken Wafula and Office of the Prosecutor led by Fatou Bensouda and the ICC," Duale told reporters.

Several key witness in the ICC cases against president Kenyatta and his deputy died or disappeared so far. A local daily reported on Thursday that four witnesses have already disappeared without trace.

Legal experts regretted that ICC witnesses are still exposed to grave risks despite assurances from the global court and Kenyan authorities that their protection is sound.

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- Xinhua


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