The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the western Kenyan town of Eldoret to do their utmost to identify and prosecute the killers of journalist John Kituyi on Thursday.
Kituyi was walking home from work at around 7:30 p.m. when assailants on a motorcycle approached him, according to news reports and the journalist’s family members and local journalists who spoke to CPJ. The attackers hit Kituyi repeatedly with a blunt object and seized his phone, but did not take his money or his watch, the sources said. The journalist died from his injuries–which included a severe back wound and bruises all over his body–despite being rushed to Eldoret Hospital, according to news reports.
Kituyi, 63, was the editor and publisher of the Mirror Weekly, a privately owned newspaper based in Eldoret with a regional focus. He had previously worked as the bureau chief for the private daily Standard in Eldoret, but quit to launch theMirror Weekly in 1995, local journalists told CPJ. His articles focused primarily on regional politics in Western Kenya, but he also covered national issues.
Three local journalists and a family member told CPJ they suspected Kituyi may have been targeted in connection with a story that ran in the Mirror Weekly last week called “Now ICC plot to jail Ruto.” The story described the International Criminal Court (ICC) case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and alleged official interference with prosecution witnesses. Ruto, who has been charged with crimes against humanity, is accused of organizing the deadly violence that followed the December 2007 elections, in which more than 1,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced.
Since the ICC case began in Kenya, witnesses have been killed and journalists have been forced to go into hiding or flee the country, according to news reports and CPJ research.
“We condemn the murder of editor and publisher John Kituyi,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “Authorities in Eldoret must work efficiently and thoroughly to prosecute the killers and demonstrate that such violence will not be tolerated.”
Langas Station Head Esther Muhoro told CPJ police were investigating the murder.
Since 1992, CPJ has documented the murder of one journalist in Kenya in relation to his work. The body of Francis Nyaruri, a reporter for the privately owned Weekly Citizen in Nyanza Province, was found in January 2009, two weeks after he went missing. The paper said Nyaruri had written stories accusing top police officers of fraud in a construction project.