Nairobi – Kenyan governor Okoth Obado has been charged in court with aiding and abetting the brutal murder of his ex-girlfriend, a pregnant student.
The married governor pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Obado’s arrest followed weeks of public anger after the body of Sharon Otieno, 26, was found in a forest.
A post-mortem revealed she had possibly been raped, and stabbed eight times in the neck, abdomen and back. She lost her unborn child during the attack.
Obado, the governor of Migori County, has been remanded in custody, pending the outcome of his bail application on Tuesday.
Otieno’s mother Melida Auma was tearful in court, and struggled to control her emotions, Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported.
In an earlier statement, Kenya’s chief prosecutor Noodin Haji said he had also given instructions for two of Mr Obado’s aides to be charged – one for murder and the other for aiding and abetting murder.
“Sharon and her unborn baby lost their lives in a gruesome and horrifying manner in the hands of her killers. My office is therefore committed to ensuring that all the perpetrators of the heinous act are brought to book and subjected to the due process of the law,” Haji added.
Otieno’s murder has gripped Kenyans since a journalist with the Nation Media Group, Barack Oduor, alleged that Otieno had contacted him about an affair.
The two met, and were kidnapped on September 3, Odour said.
He managed to escape from the speeding car, leaving Otieno alone with the abductors, the journalist added.
Two days later, police found her body in a thicket near the small town of Oyugis in western Kenya.
Later, police traced the vehicle allegedly used by the abductors.
Its tracking device had been deactivated on the day of the alleged abductions, and reactivated the following day in a “well-calculated move by the killers to conceal the movement of the vehicle in question”, the chief prosecutor said in his statement.
The investigation also established that an “intimate relationship” had existed between Obado and Otieno, which “subsequently led to a pregnancy with the deceased that the governor was unhappy about”, he added.
As Obado became the focus of investigations and amid intense media speculation, he publicly denied on 12 September that he was involved in Otieno’s murder.
“As a law-abiding citizen, I want to state here clearly and categorically that I have nothing and absolutely nothing to do with the cruel death of Sharon,” the governor was quoted by local media as saying.
Last week, his lawyer Cliff Ombeta told the BBC’s Peter Mwai the governor had had a relationship with Otieno, but had initially not been sure whether she was carrying his child.
The relationship, which ended in April, had been general knowledge in the governor’s area, Ombeta added.
“The wife had known. There was no shame left. There was no embarrassment left. So malice couldn’t then have been created thereafter,” he said.
“They came to an agreement, ‘mtoto kama ni wetu ni wetu’ [Kiswahili for ‘if the baby belongs to us, it is ours],” he added.
The governor had given Otieno financial support when she needed it, and had not been involved in her murder in any way, Ombeta said. (BBC)