Suspects in murder of Ugandan athlete Kiplagat appear in Kenya court

Uganda's Benjamin Kiplagat competes in the Men's 3000m Steeplechase Round 1 during the athletics event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 15, 2016. PHOTO/FILE/AFP

Nairobi, (KE): Two suspects appeared in a Kenyan court on Tuesday over the murder of Ugandan Olympic athlete Benjamin Kiplagat who was found dead at the weekend with a stab wound to his neck.

The two men were ordered detained for 21 days by a magistrate’s court in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret to enable police to continue investigations into the killing of the 34-year-old steeplechase runner.

The suspects, identified in court documents as David Ekhai Lokere (alias Timo), aged 25, and Peter Ushuru Khalumi, 30, were arrested on Monday.

Kiplagat’s body was discovered on a road on the outskirts of Eldoret in the early hours of Sunday morning with a stab wound to his neck.

While the motive of the killing was still unknown, police said investigations had shown that Kiplagat had been “waylaid” by the two men before he hit their motorcycle with his car.

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“The two suspects are known criminals who have been terrorising the members of public,” local police commander Stephen Okal told AFP on Monday.

Kenyan-born Kiplagat had represented Uganda internationally in the 3,000m steeplechase, including at three Olympic Games and six World Championships.

He won the silver medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2008 World Junior Championships and bronze at the Africa Championships in 2012.

He made the semi-finals of the event in the 2012 Olympics in London and also competed in Rio in 2016.

The Uganda Athletics Federation on Monday issued a statement expressing its “profound sadness and grief” at Kiplagat’s death.

It follows the killing in October 2021 of Kenyan distance running star Agnes Tirop who was found stabbed to death at the age of 25 in her home at Iten, a training hub near Eldoret.

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Her husband Ibrahim Rotich went on trial for her murder in November last year. The 43-year-old has denied the charge and was freed on bail just before the trial opened.

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