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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Why ICC witness Yebei death is sensitive


The grisly murder and controversial death of the International Commission Court witness Meshack Yebei is providing a hard nut to crack for both Deputy President William Rutto side and the prosecution.
 Informed sources say that if any of the side is found to have been linked to his death, then it is bound to have serious impact on the case hence the current blamegames in the matter.
The 34-year-old was allegedly abducted on a Sunday afternoon on December 28 last year at Turbo trading centre in Uasin Gishu.
Family sources say that his abductors are said to have use a black Toyota Prado with Tanzanian number plate. Further, they claim, a Toyota Probox whose number plate had been plucked out was seen at the scene of abduction. Other sources say that a third vehicle also a Prado had occupants monitoring the event.
It is said the vehicle that was parked outside the gate of St Columbus Primary School near Turbo Health Centre had a person shout Yebei’s name. The voice came from the vehicle with foreign number plates.
It is alleged that when Yebei went to the vehicle, the two gentlemen came out wearing dark goggles. Family sources say when Yebei responded to the call, one of the men punched and pushed him into the vehicle.
Those who witnessed the happenings claim that when they asked what the problem was, one of the men shouted that he had collapsed and they were taking him to hospital.
The death of Yebei brings into sharp focus the killing of witnesses with analysts saying in itself, constitutes a crime under the Rome Statute. It is bound to affect either the prosecution or the defence negatively if any side is found responsible for the death of Yebei.
 The ruling Jubilee led by Adan Duale has linked NGO activist Ken Wafula and his allies in the civil society to the murder. On the other hand to counter the government side, talk within the civil society is that a local operative going by the name Philip Bett who works closely with Joseph Kering associated with Oil Company Shouls sheds some light on the matter.
The activists allege that on the morning of the material day that Sunday, Yebei was abducted, Bett is said to have actively inquired the whereabouts of Yebei.
They say he was on a motorcycle and he inquired from every person who cared to listen to him on the whereabouts of the deceased and even said that he was going to AIC Kaptebee Church to pray on behalf of Yebei. The deceased attended church services at the said church.
Sources say that for a long time, Yebei has been having running disputes with both the prosecution and defence sides at the ICC. The prosecution became skeptical of his stand after it emerged that Yebei was among the ICC witness lined up to testify early in the case against the DP William Ruto. The prosecution has said he was not on their list of witnesses after some lawyers and businessmen from Eldoret and Nairobi began the process of compromising potential witness. Several meetings are said to have been held to plan this strategy in early 2013 and 2014.
Family members we talked to say that Yebei was promised a fortune in the deal but only a small amount actually reached him. As a result, he had threatened to re-establish contact with ICC as a witness. However others say, the ICC prosecution had engaged Yebei in recent past and had refused to dance to their tune.
As events unfolded, Yebei on several occasions complained and reported to Riverside and Eldoret Police Station threats on his life in the process and implicated a number of individuals baying for his blood.
Unconfirmed reports say that in early December 2014, Yebei talked of threats against him to three elders a Mr Rono (a village elder), Mr Tangwar who is Yebei  neighbour and Christopher Koech. It is not known if the elders had acted on the information by the time he was murdered.
The death of Yebei has opened a mystery on other missing witnesses. One is said to be from Sugoi in Uasin Gishu. He is said to have differed with a faction involved in ICC case. He was relocated by ICC to Kilifi. He was however, kidnapped last year outside his safe house and he has never been found again. His family says they believe he was murdered and his remains thrown into the Indian Ocean.
Others missing, according to the sources, are three men and a lady by the name Miriam, a relative of one ICC witness who is abroad.
 Uasin Gishu county governor, Jackson Mandago and Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi, have been in the news over the death of Yebei. Ruto’s lawyer Karim Khan has revealed the slain witness was to testify on Ruto’s behalf.
It is imperative to note, however, that Wafula, a civil activist was the first person to blow the whistle on the missing persons and proceeded to carry out preliminary investigations that have led to some names and leads coming out. It is on these grounds majority leader in parliament Adnen  Duale at the press conference, said Wafula move was suspect.