Content warning: This article contains details of domestic violence and murder.
Horror and heartbreak continues to spread around the world after news of Olympic runner Agnes Tirop’s murder in her home last Wednesday in Iten, Kenya.
On Thursday, police arrested her husband, Ibrahim Kipkemoi Rotich, in the city of Mombasa, more than 900km south east of where Tirop’s body was found.
This week, a local magistrate ordered Rotich be detained for 20 days to allow for investigations to be conducted. He has also directed the suspect to undergo a mental assessment at a hospital in Elboret within the 20-day period.
Tirop, 25, was found in her home with wounds in the neck and abdomen last Wednesday morning.
Rotich went into hiding, before eventually calling his family and “asking for God’s forgiveness for something he had done”, according to Tom Makori, the police chief of Elgeyo Marakwet County, where Tirop’s hometown of Iten is located.
In a Twitter post, The Directorate of Criminal Investigation announced that Rotich was arrested after he “slammed his gateway vehicle into a lorry, at Athi River, along Mombasa road, as he desperately escaped [our] dragnet”.
“The suspect is currently being grilled by detectives at Changamwe police station, for more details into the murder, before being arraigned to answer to murder charges,” it added.
Tirop was a two-time world champion bronze medallist in the women’s 10,000 metres at the 2017 and 2019 world championships. She competed at the Tokyo Olympics, finishing fourth in the 5,000 metres race.
Most recently, in September, she broke the world record in the 10-kilometer road race in Germany. At 19, she won the world cross-country title in 2015, becoming the second-youngest champion ever.
Last week, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta released a statement on the young athletes’ violence murder.
“It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetrated by selfish and cowardly people.”
Athletics Kenya, the governing body for athletics in Kenya released a statement after Tirop’s death, explaining that ”Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest-rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track.”
Earlier this week, Elders from a nearby community conducted a “cleansing ceremony” in the house where Tirop was found murdered.
The night before Tirop’s murder, 27-year-old marathon runner, Edith Muthoni was allegedly shot in the head after an altercation with her boyfriend.
In Kenya, 45 percent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and 14 percent have experienced sexual violence. Most cases are not reported to authorities and few women receive justice or medical care.
In the latest Women, Peace and Security Index, Kenya was ranked 98 out of 170 countries.