The husband of slain Kenyan distance running star Agnes Tirop went on trial Wednesday over her murder two years ago, almost immediately after the court freed him on bail.
Ibrahim Rotich had been in custody since his arrest in October 2021 over the killing of Tirop, whose body was found with stab wounds at her home in the high-altitude athletics training hub of Iten in western Kenya.
The 43-year-old, who has denied the charge, was detained after a dramatic late-night chase with police the day after the discovery of Tirop's body.
Tirop, 25, was a rising running star and her death threw a spotlight on the pressures faced by Kenya's female athletes who pay a huge -- and often tragic -- price for their spectacular success in a male-dominated society.
Rotich did not make any comment as he sat in the dock in the courtroom in the town of Eldoret, which lies not far from Iten.
Ibrahim Rotich, husband of Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop, has denied murdering her. By Casmir ODUOR (AFP/File)
Tirop's younger sister Everlyne Jepngetich, who was living with the athlete at the time of her death, said she had been abused by her husband.
She said Rotich had launched into a bitter quarrel with Tirop in their bedroom which lasted from midnight until the pre-dawn hours on the day of her killing.
Jepngetich said she had returned from a training session later that morning to find her sister badly beaten.
"When I entered the house, I saw my sister sitting on the floor while her left cheek was swollen from the beating from Rotich, who was standing while holding a wooden stick and who was half naked," she told the court.
'Things have cooled'
The trial began after the Eldoret court, in a surprise move, ordered Rotich released from custody.
He had previously been denied bail four times because of concerns over his own safety as well as the possibility he could be a flight risk.
But on Wednesday, judge Robert Wananda ruled that there were no compelling reasons to continue detaining him, paving the way for the trial to begin.
"For the past two years the accused has been detained in prison remand in connection with the murder of his wife, this has been enough (time) to ascertain his character and the environment outside the prison if released," said Wananda.
"Things have cooled and there appears not to be any danger to his life."
He ordered Rotich to be released on a bond of 400,000 shillings ($2,600), with a surety of a similar amount, or cash bail of 500,000 shillings ($3,300).
Under the bail conditions, Rotich is barred from leaving his home county of Uasin Gishu, of which Eldoret is the main town, or visiting Iten, and has been ordered not to interfere with witnesses.
Tirop was a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross country champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics.
She also smashed the world women-only record in the 10km road race in Germany in the month before her killing.