Puzzle revived over missing ICC witness

Kenya: Meshack Yebei's killing has rekindled the mystery of the unsolved disappearance in Kilifi County of Jonah Kipngetich Bureti, another ICC witness in the case against Deputy President William Ruto.

On March 20 last year, Mr Bureti's daughter, Emily, told The Standard after fleeing his native Uasin Gishu County, he settled in Kilifi at a location she declined to identify.

Bureti was the prosecution's witness number 397 before recanting his testimony.

Emily said her father, a former Party of National Unity activist and farmer, had stayed in Kilifi for three weeks before his disappearance.

Yesterday, Bureti's kin refused to talk on record for fear of retribution but confirmed he was still missing.

A family member, who asked not to be named, told The Standard that Malindi CID offices, where the disappearance was reported on March 10, have not talked to them since July last year.

In May, CID officers called to warn some family members against discussing the matter with journalists and according to the family member, the officers no longer answer their calls amid reports that no investigation was launched.

Live in fear

Other reports indicated mid last year a team of investigators from the ICC and CID headquarters visited Malindi police station and took away the files containing the investigation.

Last year, when The Standard tried to talk to police officers on the matter, no-one wanted to speak on record.

Bureti's tribulations were first covered by The Standard on December 31, 2013.

Despite withdrawing from the case, he still fled his native Beshabor village in Uasin Gishu after neighbours allegedly descended on his homestead on December 29, 2013.

Some accounts disputed by his family indicated that before his disappearance Bureti had tried to re-establish contacts with the ICC through a safe house in Tanzania.

In the story, carried by The Standard in late 2013, Bureti lamented he was being chased "up and down like an antelope" and blamed a local chief and a teacher for his troubles.

"Our family has been living in fear after being harassed for long," said Emily in an interview at our Mombasa offices last year.

Malindi Divisional Police Commander Kiprono Langat had said, "The matter is being handled by the DCIO."


On Wednesday, Kilifi police commander Joseph Nthenge said he had no information about the missing witness and said he was transferred to the region only last November.

Nthenge said he had never come across this information or file since his arrival. "I was transferred to Kilifi County towards the end of last year and since that time I have never come across any document talking about an ICC witness who disappeared in the area."