Nairobi – The husband of Kenyan distance running star Agnes Tirop was on Tuesday charged with her murder, a day after he was found fit to stand trial.
Ibrahim Rotich, who is commonly known as Emmanuel, denied the charges when he appeared before the high court in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.
Tirop’s body was found with stab wounds at her home in the nearby town of Iten, a high-altitude training hub in western Kenya for top runners, on October 13.
According to the charge sheet seen by AFP, Rotich is alleged to have killed the 25-year-old the day before her body was found in her bedroom.
The court had last week ordered Rotich to undergo a mental health test before entering a plea.
Rotich, said by police to be aged about 41, took officers on a dramatic late-night chase before his arrest on October 14 in the coastal city of Mombasa.
Tirop’s death threw a spotlight on the pressures faced by the country’s female athletes who pay a huge – and often tragic – price for their spectacular success in a male-dominated society. Devoted to sports from an early age, many young sportswomen lack the necessary education to manage their finances, leaving them particularly vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of coaches, agents and even their loved ones.
Born to a peasant farming family, Tirop launched her athletics career less than a decade ago but swiftly ran up a host of second-place finishes in national and international cross country races.
She went on to become one of Kenya’s rising stars – as the 2015 world cross-country champion, a two-time world medallist over 10,000 metres, and fourth over 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Tirop’s shock murder came barely a month after she broke the world women-only record in the 10km in September.
The court will rule on December 1 on an application to release Rotich on bail.
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