Rights groups want State to pay for autopsy in death of potential ICC witness

Relatives and friends of Christopher Koech, the Nabakholo Primary School teacher in Kakamega County, at his Kaptebee home in Turbo, Uasin Gishu County on July 18, 2022. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

The family of a potential International Criminal Court (ICC) witness who died under mysterious circumstances is struggling to raise Sh300,000 for post-mortem charges and burial expenses.

Christopher Koech’s family says it is struggling to raise the money and has appealed for assistance from the government and well-wishers to facilitate preparations for his burial.

“We are racing against time to raise the Sh300,000 to cater for the postmortem and burial preparations,” his brother Peter Leting told Nation.Africa by phone on Tuesday.

Died mysteriously 

The Khaunga Primary School teacher in Mumias East sub-county died under unclear circumstances on July 16 at Kakamega County Referral Hospital after he developed health complications.

His family spoke as human rights activists asked the government to hasten investigations into the death of the prospective ICC witness two weeks ago.

“The government should waive all hospital charges now that the family is unable to meet the costs considering that the death has attracted public interest that can facilitate litigation,” said David Koros, a human rights activist, in a telephone interview.

He regretted that prospective ICC witnesses have died under unclear circumstances and urged the government to offer support and protection to family members.

“It is unfortunate that the Witness Protection Act is not being enforced by respective government agencies. Most of the ICC witnesses are living in fear while some of them have died under mysterious circumstances,” said Mr Koros.

Private prosecution

Human rights groups, he said, are ready to bring private prosecutions against the State to enforce the Witness Protection Act under the criminal justice system.

“Although we have the Witness Protection Agency, little has been done to guarantee individuals under the scheme their safety,” said Mr Koros.

Kakamega Referral pathologist Dr Dickson Mchana said the postmortem will be conducted when the family is ready to proceed.

He said the family had not communicated about the date they wished the autopsy to be conducted.

Teacher's last moments

Mr Koech is reported to have gone to school on his motorbike on Saturday and spent about an hour there before he left hurriedly for an undisclosed destination.

He was later found lying on the side of a road, next to his motorbike and near Shibuli market with foam in his mouth and sweating profusely.

Shibuli is located on the Mumias-Kakamega road, some 21.4km from the primary school.

The teacher was said to have been agitated and was involved in a brief struggle with traffic police officers who blocked him from riding the motorbike as his condition looked serious.