Meshack Yebei family accuses William Ruto, ICC of abandoning them in hour of need

Meshack Yebei’s wife Lilian (left) with Salma Ahmed of Haki Africa at the Voi Referral Hospital morgue, before she identified the body of a man she said was her husband, on Friday. The body was discovered in Tsavo East National Park by a forest ranger on January 31. [Photo: Gideon Maundu/Standard]

The family of the missing ICC witness, Meshack Yebei, has accused Deputy President William Ruto and the International Criminal Court (ICC) of not doing enough to help them solve the riddle of his disappearance.

Yebei's wife Lilian told The Standard no representative from either side had visited the family or shown any interest in helping to unravel her husband's mysterious disappearance late last year.

"They have done nothing. They have not even visited to condole with us despite claiming publicly that he was a key witness. But for us, the most important thing is to solve this riddle by finding and burying our loved one," said Mrs Yebei. Yebei's mother, Priscillah Kisorio, had earlier shared similar sentiments.

"Ruto, who is also our neighbour, has never spoken about the disappearance of Yebei. The area MP and members of the county assembly have also never spoken about it. What do they know that we do not know?" asked Yebei.

The family appeared closer to unravelling the mystery of Yebei's whereabouts after his wife insisted that a body lying at the Voi Moi Referral Hospital mortuary in Taita Taveta County belonged to her husband.

She said she had viewed the body twice and was confident that it was her husband's, and asked that the family be allowed to bury the body after DNA results are released Tuesday.

"We have no doubt about the body... it belongs to Meshack. Based on the body marks and facial structure, we are convinced that it is him," said Yebei in an interview with The Standard.

"I am happy that I have found my husband's body. I had been wondering what to tell my two-month-old son when he grows up," she added.

A team from the Serious Crimes Unit in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) led by John Kariuki last week took DNA samples from the body and are expected to release the results Tuesday.

Forest ranger

At a press conference in January, Mr Ruto's ICC defence lawyer Karim Khan said Yebei was a critical defence witness and asked the head of DCI, Ndegwa Muhoro, to investigate his disappearance. Mr Khan noted he had lost a key witness and described the 'killing' as a direct attack on Ruto.

"The attack on Mr Yebei was an attack on His Excellency William Ruto and the fabric of justice itself. I have also lost someone who I described to the court, many months ago, as a critical defence witness," Khan said.

The Standard has also learned that the body lying in the mortuary in Taita Taveta, which is believed to be Yebei's, was to be disposed of last week had it not been for the controversy surrounding it.

The body was discovered by a forest ranger on patrol who was attracted by a hyena that seemed engrossed with something on the ground.

A source told the family that the ranger informed the police about the body.

Moses Kisorio, Yebei's older brother, however said the body was found intact apart from the left eye, which had been gouged out, and a wound on the back of the neck.

The family heard from the hospital's administration that they would have disposed of the body after it was found at Man Eaters' in Tsavo East National Park.

Yebei disappeared on December 28, 2014, after escorting his wife and second child to Turbo Health Centre for a medical check-up.