Kenyan world steeplechase champ charged after stabbing
6/29/2012 1:30:03 AM -
NAIROBI (AFP) - Kenyan police on Thursday charged world 3,000 steeplechase champion and London Olympic hopeful Ezekiel Kemboi with assault after a reported car jacking in which a woman was stabbed.
Kemboi, who was charged with causing bodily harm, handed himself in to a police station in in his hometown of Eldoret, some 315 kilometres (195 miles) west of the Kenyan capital.
Police said that Kemboi had told them his car was stopped by two men early Thursday before they launched a bungled assault in which a woman was wounded by a knife.
The athlete was later charged in court, and was set free on a bond of 50,000 shillings (600 dollars) and a cash bail of 20,000 (240 dollars). He denied all charges.
Kemboi pleaded with the court to set the next court appearance for after the London Olympic Games. The case will be heard on September 25.
"I am innocent of the charges," Kemboi told the court. "I am already in the team for the London Olympic Games. I would like your honour to give me time to take part in the competition."
Earlier in the day Kemboi told police that he had been involved in an attempted car jacking.
"Kemboi said they pounced on him, demanding money, and when they were told he had no money, one of them suddenly pulled out a sharp object trying to stab him," said local police official Charles Jamanda.
However, the 30-year-old athlete -- who is also a police officer -- said that in the ensuing fight, a nearby woman called Anne Njeri was stabbed in the chest.
"Kemboi said he dodged the object, which in turn stabbed Njeri," Jamanda said.
Kemboi, the 2004 Olympic champion, told local media that the lady was "part of the gang" that had tried to attack him, claims dismissed by Njeri's family.
Njeri was admitted at a hospital in Eldoret.
Eldoret, in Kenya's famed Rift Valley, has produced some of the East African nation's finest running talent.
Among the curious onlookers in the court were a group of top class athletes, among them Kemboi's teammates to next month's Olympics, who formed a human shield to bar journalists from taking the runner's photograph.
They included the Olympic women's 800m silver medalist Janeth Jepkosgei, former world 5,000m champion Benjamin Limo and half marathon runner Sammy Kitwara.