Husband of killed Kenyan running star Tirop due in court

Nairobi (AFP) –


The husband of Kenyan record-breaking runner Agnes Tirop, who was stabbed to death in a killing that has shocked her home country and the world of athletics, was due in court Friday after a dramatic late-night arrest.

Emmanuel Rotich was detained in the coastal city of Mombasa on Thursday over the death of the 25-year-old double world championships medallist and Olympian.

A senior police official in Mombasa told AFP that Rotich would appear in court and prosecutors were likely to ask for more time "to firm up a case against him" during hearing.

"Given how tense the ground is in Iten, it is unlikely we will have him charged there," the official said referring to the western town where the couple lived.

Police cornered Rotich in Mombasa, using his mobile number to track him down after he used his old SIM card in his new phone after spending days offline, one of the investigating officers told AFP.

Tributes have poured in for Tirop since her body was found with stab wounds in the bedroom of their home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub for many top-class athletes.

Athletics Kenya said it was postponing events for two weeks in honour of Tirop and another runner who was found dead at the weekend of an apparent suicide.

Athletics Kenya president Jackson Tuwei said Tirop's death was a "huge blow" to athletics, describing her as "one of the fastest rising stars" and voicing hope for speedy justice.

Tirop was killed just a month after she smashed the women's 10,000 metres world record at an event in Germany.

She had previously won world championship medals, finished fourth in the 5,000 metres at the Tokyo Olympics this year and became the second-youngest gold medallist in the women's cross country championships in 2015.

- Family breadwinner -

Her family told reporters she was their breadwinner, paying for children's school fees and clothes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to Tirop, who would have turned 26 later this month, saying she had "brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage".

Her killing came days after another long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of Kenya's record-breaking world cross country team, died of what athletics officials said was suicide.

Macharinyang, 35, had competed for Kenya in both cross country and 5,000 metre and 10,000 metre races. He won three consecutive titles in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.

Kenya is the most successful nation in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles.