Chief: I found suspect with bloody knife

Activist Elizabeth Ekaru. Patrick Naweet is alleged to have stabbed Ekaru several times. [File, Standard]

A senior Assistant Chief has testified before a Meru court against a man accused of killing activist Elizabeth Ekaru in January last year.

Habiba Hassan narrated to Justice Edward Muriithi of the Meru High Court how Ms Ekaru, a 45-year-old widow and mother of five, was killed by Patrick Naweet by stabbing.

Hassan said when he arrived at the scene of the crime after receiving information about the attack on Ekaru, he found Naweet with a bloodstained knife in his hand.

By then, residents were stoning him.

Ekaru and Naweet are said to have had a dispute over a piece of land. Ekaru was a celebrated human rights defender with a Head of State Commendation. She earned other accolades because of her work of agitating for the land rights of marginalised communities.

Naweet is alleged to have stabbed Ekaru several times. Principal Prosecution Counsel Erick Masila questioned Hassan about what they found at the murder scene.

Ms Hassan narrated how, on January 3, last year, she received a call from a village elder who told her a local woman had been stabbed.

"I asked the identity of the victim and the village elder told me it was Elizabeth Ekaru. I asked him who had done it (the stabbing) and he told me it was Patrick Naweet," said Hassan.

Hassan told the court she learnt Naweet and Ekaru were in a land ownership dispute and a date had been set at which elders were to resolve the conflict. However, Ekaru was killed before the arbitration could happen.

"Upon arriving, I found blood all over. Ekaru had been taken to hospital. I found the accused person being stoned by members of the public. I alighted from my vehicle, and upon seeing me, the residents stopped their attack on Naweet. Naweet was down with a bloodstained knife in his hand," said the administrator.

"I asked them why they were stoning him and they said he had killed one of them and so he deserved to die too." Ms Hassan said she also feared the accused would harm other people as he was still wielding the alleged murder weapon.

"I ordered him to put the knife down. I feared he might stab me or someone else." But appearing for Naweet, lawyer Hillary Sandi sought to poke holes in the witness's account and asked her whether she had witnessed the actual stabbing by Naweet. "You did not see the accused kill the deceased, did you?" Sandi asked.

Patrick Muriira, a police officer based at Isiolo Police Station, said he was in office when he was informed about the incident and rushed to the scene together with other officers.

"We found a lifeless body which had wounds," Muriira said. The officers rescued Naweet, took him to hospital, and then detained him. The matter will resume on June 19.