Deputy President William Ruto calls for probe into murder of ICC witness

Kenya: Deputy President William Ruto has now confirmed that a Meshack Yebei a man who was found murdered in Uasin Gishu county last week was one of his witnesses at the International Criminal Court  (ICC).

And now, Ruto, through his lawyer Karim Khan, has written to the CID, demanding thorough investigations into the killing. He is demanding that the police first confirm through a DNA examination that the decomposed body recovered at Kapsabet was indeed that of Yebei.

The confirmation that Yebei was set to testify on Ruto’s side at the ICC was made in the confidential letter written by Khan to the CID director Ndegwa Muhoro on Monday.

It also emerged that Ruto’s defence team had refered Mr Yebei to the ICC Victims and Witnesses Protection Unit, having been apprehensive of the dangers he faced as a witness.

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Yebei went missing in Turbo, Uasin Gishu County on December 28 last year and his body was found on Saturday near Yala River bridge on Eldoret-Kisumu road some 15km from Kapsabet town. His family says he had reported to the police that his life was in danger over a year ago before his mutilated body was recovered.

A few days after his disappearance, his mother and a friend received a text message purporting to be coming from him, saying he was safe and in Uganda with some ICC officials.

A post-mortem conducted at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital Eldoret mortuary revealed he was hit on the head by a blunt object. Meshack had contested for a Member of County Assembly's (MCA) seat at Tapsagoi Ward on an independent ticket.

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In his two-page letter the lawyer told Muhoro, as I indicated when we spoke, I am able to confirm to you that Mr Meshack Yebei was a defence witness in the case against H.E William Ruto at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.”

He added, “Mr Yebei was a critical witness to the defence and because of this and the risk we believe he faced, we had referred him to the ICC Victims and Witness Unit for protection,”

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Khan said the news of Yebei’s apparent abduction and murder was both shocking to the defence team and a matter of grave concern. 

“It’s our strongly held view that an attack on any witness constitutes an interference with the proper administration of justice and indeed an attack against William Ruto,”

Khan told Muhoro he was formalizing the request for assistance due to the seriousness of the matter.

The lawyer also asked the police in conjunction with the Ugandan government to investigate claims that the clothes and shoes won by Yebei when the body was recovered were different from those he wore on the day he was abducted.

Further he was the CID to investigate the numbers used to send the SMS, its ownership and location at the time.

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Khan asked the CID boss not to let other police officers know that Yebei was a defence witness or that he had been placed under the ICC protection Unit.

“This would jeopardize the defence investigations and would be inappropriate at this juncture,” he said adding, “In the event that he DNA confirms that the body is indeed that of Mehsack Yebei, we request that you deploy all the resources at your disposal to prioritize the investigations and circumstances of his alleged abduction and murder,”

On Tuesday, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Keriako Tobiko directed the CID boss to conduct speedy investigations into the murder.

He told the CID to submit the findings to him for perusal and appropriate directions.

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