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Agnes Tirop’s family open to plea bargain in murder case



The family of slain international athlete Agnes Tirop. has said that they are not opposed to a plea bargain as applied by the prime suspect in her murder, Ibrahim Rotich.

Through their lawyer Richard Warigi, they said it was within the law for the accused to apply for a plea bargain.

Mr Warigi said though the family is not opposed to plea-bargaining, they have written to the state counsel through the office of Director of Public Prosecution and want specific issues addressed before embracing plea -bargaining.

Speaking outside Eldoret High Court on Wednesday, Mr Warigi said the family wanted some specific issues addressed before adopting the application by the accused.

Mr Warigi said his clients had some reservations on the plea -bargain application, but as soon as their concerns are amicably addressed by all parties through the guidance of state, they will be ready to ventilate on plea-bargaining.

“Initially we had our reservation on plea -bargaining since we had some issues we wanted addressed before adopting the application. We have written a letter to the state to address issues of concern,” said Mr Warigi.

Mr Warigi said already the state counsel Anthony Fedha is privy to their concerns as they await direction from the state before the case management conference.

He said that the advice of state counsel and the court on the concerns of the victim’s family will determine the next move on the application by the accused.

The lawyer said the application on plea bargaining has also been a contributing factor to frequent adjournment of the case.

“We have talked to state counsel Anthony Fedha who has assured us that our concerns on the same are being addressed and the state will advise accordingly,” said Mr Warigi.

The family has disclosed that they are ready to embrace the advice of the state counsel upon responding to their concerns.

The accused through his lawyer, Allan Ngigi Mbugua, had in May applied to be allowed to plead guilty for a lesser charge as part of “the healing process”.

“My client wants to pursue the plea bargain path with the family of his estranged wife to lessen the pain they are going through since her killing occurred last year. We agree that a life has been lost and it is such an unfortunate incident and that is why we prefer the route of plea bargaining,” Mbugua said.

Mbugua said the murder trial would cause more pain and anxiety to the family owing to the circumstances under which Tirop was killed.

“It is our view that a plea bargain deal would also help expedite the matter for the sake of justice for both parties,” Mbugua said.

During May’s application, the state counsel Mark Mogun had told the court that the state was not ready to consent to his application.

“We are aware about the application, but at the moment the republic is not ready to yield to the application since the republic is ready to charge him with murder,” the prosecution told Justice Reuben Nyakundi.

At the time of the application, the state confirmed that the two were married and the murder emanated from domestic violence.

“We have a marriage certificate with us ascertaining that the two were legally married in 2016. The application by the accused to enter into plea bargaining has been filed with us. We are going to serve the lawyer representing the family of Ms Tirop,” Mogun said.

Rotich denied the murder charge on November 16, 2021.

According to the charge sheet, Rotich is accused of killing Tirop on October 12, 2021 at Rural estate in Iten, Elgeyo-Marakwet County.

The accused allegedly went into hiding after the incident and was arrested in Mombasa two days after the body of Tirop was discovered in her house.

Despite Rotich producing a marriage certificate in court, Tirop’s parents had vehemently refused to acknowledge the marriage between the two.

Available documents – including the marriage certificate, which has since been deposited with the court – however confirmed the two were married in Mosoriot, Nandi County, in 2016.

Tirop started her athletics career less than a decade ago and she swiftly ran up a host of victories in national and international races.

She was the 2015 World Cross Country champion, a two-time 10,000m world medallist, and a fourth finish in 5000m at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ironically, Tirop’s murder came barely a month after she broke the world women-only record in the 10km race in September 2021.

The state has lined up 13 witnesses for the murder trial against Rotich. The case will be mentioned on February 1, 2023 for further directions.

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