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Kenya: Police close in on 3 more suspects in Sharon Otieno murder probe

Detectives are looking for three suspects they believe are crucial in unravelling the murder of university student Sharon Otieno.

Detectives have extended the search for the fugitives suspected to have killed 26-year-old to both Uganda and Tanzania, hoping to bring to book those who raped, stabbed and strangled, her and her unborn baby.

Already, police have charged Ms Otieno’s boyfriend, Migori governor Okoth Obando, his personal assistant Michael Oyamo, and Migori County clerk Caspal Obiero.

But they have not yet arrested some of the suspects believed to have been part of the killer squad that tortured the Rongo University student who was kidnapped alongside Nation journalist Barrack Oduor.

While Mr Oduor managed to jump out of a moving vehicle, Ms Otieno’s lifeless body was later found by a herdsman near Kodera Forest.

COMPROMISE

“It is true we have extended the search to Uganda and Tanzania,” Mr George Kinoti, the Director of Criminal Investigations, told the Nation Wednesday evening.

But Mr Kinoti said he could not reveal more on the regional hunt, fearing that it might compromise the search. “What is I can say is that they won’t have any place to hide. We are on their trail,” he said.

They are believed to be hiding in Uganda and Tanzania where the search has been extended with the help of other cross-border law enforcement agencies.

“They can run, but they can’t hide forever,” said Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, who declined to give details for fear of compromising the investigations.

CUSTODY

The fugitives are believed to have been in control of a car that carried a journalist, Mr Barack Oduor, and Ms Otieno. The three are also believed to have been present when Ms Otieno was killed near a forest.

Judge Jessie Lesiit Wednesday freed Migori Governor Okoth Obado, one of the accused, on a Sh5 million bond but slapped him with tough conditions that will confine him to the county.

She declined to release Mr Obado’s aides — Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero — who have also been in custody.

Detectives believe the three unidentified men were hired to execute Ms Otieno.

ARRESTS

“Investigations are still ongoing but we haven’t arrested them. Expect arrests very soon, but we can’t divulge details now because some of these things are prejudicial, and we can’t go anywhere if they are revealed,” DCI head of investigations John Kariuki said.

Mr Obado was freed after three weeks at the Industrial Area Prison after Judge Lesiit said evidence linking him to the murder of Ms Otieno and her unborn child was so far only circumstantial.

She ruled that it would be dangerous to deny him bond pending the trial, which he is facing alongside his personal assistant Oyamo and County clerk Obiero.

DUTIES

“I find that Governor Obado is entitled to bond. He should, therefore, deposit a cash bail of five million shillings and provide two sureties of the same amount each,” Justice Lesiit.

While he is now free to go back to his duties as a governor and meet his family, he still remains a besieged man because the judge ordered him not to go beyond 20km of his county, not to cause any adjournments when the trial starts, and to report to the deputy registrar of the court every month.

TRAVEL

The judge also ordered him to deposit in court his travel documents, including his Kenyan, East Africa and diplomatic passports. Mr Obado was also cautioned against intimidating parents, siblings, Ms Otieno’s relations  and witnesses. He should also not discuss the case in private or in public.

As for his co-accused, they will remain in remand since the judge ruled that they are not entitled to be released on bond pending trial.

PREGNANT

“The likelihood of these two accused persons absconding cannot be underrated, bearing in mind the reaction of the public at the time of their arrest and also investigations into this case. Their release is likely to disturb public order, and I, therefore, decline to grant them bond,” Justice Lesiit said.

She categorically stated that should the governor breach any of these conditions, he risks having his bond terms cancelled.

The governor’s 28-year-old pregnant girlfriend was laid to rest last Friday in Homa Bay Town.

PROSECUTION

On September 27, the governor lost his first attempt at freedom when Justice Lesiit dismissed the request on grounds that the prosecution had not handed in witness statements.

The case will be coming for a pre-trial conference on February 14, 2019. The hearing will be held between May 6-17.

Ms Otieno was abducted on the evening of September 3 after receiving a call from one of the suspects, asking her to meet them in Rongo later in the day but she requested that the meet at Rod Kopany, which was closer to her home.

The suspect allegedly insisted that Ms Otieno ask Mr Oduor to accompany her.

The two met the suspect at Graca hotel in Rongo, but he allegedly asked that they leave and meeting elsewhere instead.

POST-MORTEM

He is alleged to have led them to a vehicle, which they entered, but he jumped out and two other men got in, sandwiching Ms Otieno and Mr Oduor.

The vehicle sped off and sensing danger, Mr Oduor claimed he jumped out of the moving vehicle at Nyangweso trading centre.

The following afternoon, Ms Otieno’s bloodied body was found in a thicket. She lay on her blood-stained white track suit, with her underwear and condoms around her.

She had been stabbed in the neck, back and abdomen and, according to the post-mortem, bled to death. Her unborn son was stabbed through the spine, and the knife exited through the baby’s stomach.

By Daily Nation

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