Missing ‘ICC witness’ found dead in Eldoret
The mutilated body of Mr Meshack Yebei was found floating in River Yala in Nandi County, more than 40 kilometres from his Sugoi home. Relatives said he was abducted near Turbo trading centre. The people who allegedly abducted him drove away in two cars.
Shocked family members yesterday accused security officers of carrying out shoddy investigations after they reported the matter at Turbo and Eldoret police stations.
Rights Activist Ken Wafula said Mr Yebei was an ICC witness, but he was not under the witness protection programme.
Mr Wafula claimed the killing was State-sponsored and called for protection of the remaining witnesses. “There is a hit squad out to eliminate ICC witnesses and human rights officials accused of coaching witnesses to testify before the Hague-based court,” said Mr Wafula.
Mr Yebei’s family termed his death political. The deceased was a businessman and politician. He contested the Kapsagoi Ward civic seat in 2002 but lost. In 2007, he was the PNU coordinator for Turbo, and in 2013, he vied as an independent candidate for member of county assembly.
“Why is it that the police kept on misleading us after our brother disappeared? They even claimed he was safe,” said Mr Yebei’s sister, Ms Clara Yebei.
The Rev Moses Kisorio of Christ Is the Way Ministry, who is also Mr Yebei’s elder brother, said the deceased left to buy water for his child who was being treated at a Turbo dispensary on December 28. Two hours later, he had not returned. His wife went out to look for him but in vain.
Funeral arrangements were going on for the father of two when the Nation visited his home in Sugoi on Saturday evening.
The Rev Kisorio narrated how they spent the better part of Monday last week recording statements with the police.
“The officers promised to launch investigations into the matter immediately,” he said.
Uasin Gishu County police boss Smollests Munyianzi confirmed the family reported the matter and that investigations had begun.
“The criminal investigations department is following up on the case and a comprehensive report will soon be released,” Mr Munyianzi said.
The officer said on Saturday, the family received a call from the Kapsabet District Mortuary in Nandi County, informing them that the body of a man fitting the description of Mr Yebei had been taken there by police on Friday.
“When we went to the mortuary, it was sad to discover that indeed it was my brother lying there dead. His body had been found in a river,” said the Rev Kisorio. A message from a strange number was sent to the deceased’s mother and a friend, in which he is quoted as saying he was in Uganda with ICC officials.
The family presented the text message written in Kalenjin to the police upon Mr Yebei’s disappearance. It said: “abwati ale ichamegei, kwawe Uganda urgently. kimi ak ngamotik cheb bensouda nekile patrick ak lugusa. ami komie, mosich wasiwasi. meshack ako namba nenyu ni. (I hope you are okay, I went to Uganda urgently. I am with Bensouda’s people Patrick and Lugusa. This is . . . I am alright don’t worry and this is my number’). The message originated from phone number 256-773125351.
Ms Clara Yebei said her brother had expressed fear over his safety after “differing with some people” over the ICC cases.
Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi called for calm. “All that we know is that Yebei was an ICC witness for the Kenyan government and it is unfortunate that he was found dead in such mysterious circumstances,” he said.