Kidnappers chilling SMS: ‘We are with Bensouda’s people Patrick and Lugusa’
AN ICC witness linked to the Kenya cases apparently has been abducted, causing an outcry from his family and prompting a police investigation.
The family says the middle-aged man was kidnapped near his home in Uasin Gishu County last Sunday and driven away by an unidentified person or persons.
Witnesses said he was abducted at Turbo Market, about 35km North of Eldoret along the Eldoret-Webuye road. was bundled into a car as soon as he left the shop.
Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua wrap Sang’ still face charges at the ICC in connection with the 2007-08 post-election violence.
It was unclear however if the missing man was to testify for the defence or prosecution in the ICC cases.
The man had gone to buy water for his sick child at the market centre.
“He had taken his child to hospital at Turbo together with his wife, but, while at the hospital, the child began vomiting, and he decided to go buy water at the market at about midday, but he never returned,” said his elder brother, who cannot be named because ICC witnesses cannot be identified.
The brother and a close friend of the witness, who also cannot be named, were among several people who spent the better part of yesterday recording statements at the Eldoret police station.
A text message from an anonymous number was sent to the witness’s mother and the friend, in which the witness was quoted as saying he was in Uganda with a team from the ICC.
The message was written in Kalenjin.
(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’.
It originated from the number 256-773125351.
The family said he had expressed fears for his life after “differing with some people” over the ICC cases.
“He had even informed the police after some strange people went to his home looking for him,” said the brother.
The friend said the witness has been linked to the ICC cases but, “he had told me that he cleared himself and had nothing to do with the cases”.
The friend said he had met the witness a week ago at home. “In the message sent to my number he says that he is safe and we should not be worried,” said the friend.
At one point, he had sent emissaries seeking to reconcile with those he had differed with over the ICC cases.
“He was however yet to receive a response from those he differed with,” his friend said.
The owner of the shop where he bought water said he did not see the witness after he left the premises, apparently on his way back to the hospital.
The wife waited for about two hours at the hospital before going to check at the shopping centre, but could not trace him.
Human rights activist Ken Wafula yesterday demanded that the ICC should come out and explain if the missing witness was in their custody.
“We have to know what is happening, because he is now the second person to go missing this year amid allegations that he had been taken by the ICC,” said Wafula.
Wafula said the witness had confirmed to him that he was lined up to testify at the ICC.
Police have now opened investigations to trace the man after the family members recorded statements.
“We have started the investigations to trace his whereabouts,” said one of the senior officers at the Eldoret police station.