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Kenyan agency says missing ICC witness not under its protection

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- An International Criminal Court (ICC) witness who went missing late last year in northwest Kenya was not under the protection of the State agency in charge of protecting witnesses testifying in high value cases.

Alice Ondieki, Director of the Witness Protection Agency, told reporters on Friday that Meshack Yebei was not enlisted in the state funded witness protection program.

"I wish to clarify that contrary to erroneous reports circulating in the local media, Yebei was not under our jurisdiction.

"The law does not oblige us to offer protection to witnesses testifying in foreign courts," Ondieki said in Nairobi.

The disappearance of Meshack Yebei triggered a flurry of conflicting statements from his family, the office of the prosecutor at the ICC and the Kenyan government.

It was alleged that Yebei was a critical witness in the ongoing case against Kenyan Deputy President, William Ruto, at The Hague based court.

Ruto’s defense maintained that Yebei was their key witness and alleged that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor could have been involved in his abduction and death.

CID investigator John Kariuki later established that fingerprints of the body, which was reportedly Yebei’s, match that of a man in Western Kenya identified as Yusuf Hussein.

Hussein’s family said in Eldoret that the police informed them that the fingerprints collected from the body match his.

Hussein disappeared during the Christmas season from his home in Nandi in Rift Valley.

Kariuki however said further DNA samples of the Kaimosi family that has positively identified the body will be taken to confirm if the body is that of Hussein.

The prosecution had denied any involvement in Yebei’s death and clarified it had severed links with him over unethical behavior.

Lawmakers from the ruling coalition joined the fray and alleged that a human rights activist from Rift Valley and the ICC’s prosecution office were behind Yebei’s death.

Director of Public Prosecution last week ordered the Director of Criminal Investigations to commence a thorough probe on circumstances leading to Yebei’s death.

Kenya’s witness protection agency refuted allegations that it ignored pleas to offer a safe haven to Yebei.

The agency’s director said high value ICC witnesses and their families had been accorded state security since 2008.


Confusion surrounds death of International Criminal Court witness



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