Kenya govt: DNA results show body not of missing ICC witness

AP News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2015 12:26 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — DNA tests on a body retrieved from a river in western Kenya show that it is not that of a missing International Criminal Court witness, a Kenya police official said Thursday

The results indicate the remains were not of Meshack Yebei, said John Kariuki, a criminal investigation officer.

The family is waiting for results of an independent DNA test, said Yebei's brother, Rev. Moses Kisorio. He said 15 family members had positively identified the body as that of Yebei.

Police said the body belonged to Yusuf Hussien, and his family buried the body despite a court order stopping its release until results of a second DNA test are available, said human rights activist Ken Wafula said.

Yebei, who went missing on Dec 28., was a defense witness in Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto's trial, according to Ruto's lawyer. Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang are on trial for crimes against humanity for the 2007-08 postelection violence that killed more than 1,000 people.

The ICC has said Yebei was not a prosecution witness in Ruto's trial, but the court offered him safe residency. Yebei instead went back to his hometown, it said.

After his disappearance, Yebei's mother received a text message purporting to be from her son saying that he was safe in Uganda with ICC officials, local media reported. The court said its officials had not been in contact with Yebei at the time of his abduction.

Yebei had been contacted during the course of investigations for the Ruto-Sang trial but he was ultimately not included in the witness list, because, among other reasons, there was information implicating him in a scheme to corrupt prosecution witnesses, the ICC prosecution said in a statement earlier this month.

The ICC dropped charges against four others, including Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The ICC's chief prosecutor cited a lack of sufficient evidence for the decision, which she attributed to intimidation of witnesses and the Kenyan government blocking her investigation. The prosecution in Ruto's trial has also made accusations of bribery and witness intimidation.