Prosecution opposes plea bargain bid in Tirop’s murder case

Ibrahim Rotich

Ibrahim Rotich, a suspect in the murder of Olympian Agnes Tirop in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet County in October last year, when he appeared before Justice Reuben Nyakundi, at the High Court in Eldoret on November 2, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Justice Nyakundi is expected to give directions on the application after an inter-parties’ conference scheduled for December 7.
  • Rotich denied the murder charge on November 16, 2021.

The state is not ready to enter into plea bargaining with Ibrahim Rotich, who is charged with the brutal killing of international athlete Agnes Tirop, the High Court in Eldoret heard on Wednesday.

Through lawyer Allan Ngigi Mbugua, Rotich had in May this year applied to be allowed to plead guilty for a lesser charge as part of “the healing process”.

“My client wants to pursue the plea bargain path with the family of his estranged wife to lessen the pain they are going through since her killing occurred last year. We agree that a life has been lost and it is such an unfortunate incident and that is why we prefer the route of plea bargaining,” Mbugua said.

Mbugua said the murder trial would cause more pain and anxiety to the family owing to the circumstances under which Tirop was killed.

“It is our view that a plea bargain deal would also help expedite the matter for the sake of justice for both parties,” Mbugua said.

However, on Wednesday, state counsel Mark Mogun told the court that the state was not ready to consent to his application.

“We are aware about the application, but at the moment the republic is not ready to yield to the application since the republic is ready to charge him with murder,” the prosecution told Justice Nyakundi.

Lawyer Richard Warigi said the family of the deceased was not ready to comment as they were yet to be served with the said application.

Warigi, however, admitted that the family was engaged in negotiations on the way forward, which would be pegged on positions taken by the state and other interested parties in the matter.

"We have heard the application by the defence and we are not against it but we need time to discuss it and report back to court the position of the family on the application," added Warigi.

At the time of the application in May, the state confirmed that the two were married and that the murder emanated from domestic violence.

"We have a marriage certificate with us ascertaining that the two were legally married in 2016. The application by the accused to enter into plea bargaining has been filed with us. We are going to serve the lawyer representing the family of Ms Tirop," Mogun said.

Justice Nyakundi is expected to give directions on the application after an inter-parties’ conference scheduled for December 7.

Rotich denied the murder charge on November 16, 2021.

According to the charge sheet, Rotich killed Tirop on October 12, 2021 at Rural estate in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.

The accused allegedly went into hiding after the incident and was arrested in Mombasa two days after the body of Tirop was discovered in her house.

Despite Rotich producing a marriage certificate in court, Tirop’s parents had vehemently refused to acknowledge the marriage between the two.

Available documents – including the marriage certificate, which has since been deposited with the court - however confirmed the two were married in Mosoriot, Nandi County, in 2016.

Tirop embarked on her athletics career less than a decade ago and she swiftly ran up a host of victories in national and international races.

Until her death she had become one of Kenya’s rising stars.

She is the 2015 World Cross Country champion, a two-time 10,000m world medallist, and a fourth finish in 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ironically Tirop’s murder came barely a month after she broke the world women-only record in the 10km race in September 2021.

The state has lined up 13 witnesses for the murder trial against Rotich.

The court has directed all parties to appear in court on December 7 for a conference on plea bargaining to enable the court to make a fair ruling on the application.