Kenyan journalist receives death threats for investigating murder

New York, US (PANA) - A Kenyan journalist whose reporting has helped expose and publicize the unsolved 2009 murder of reporter Francis Nyaruri, has received two anonymous threatening phone calls, saying that he could “share Nyaruri's fate”,  according to local journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Thursday called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the threats and provide the journalist, Sam Owida, a reporter for the private daily Nation, with protection.

Owida told CPJ that the caller, who claimed to be part of the local Sungu Sungu militia that operates in western Kenya, asked if he was the journalist who publicized the killing of Nyaruri and said they were “on to him.”

In interviews with CPJ, local journalists said they believed two suspects in custody for the murder of Nyaruri may be affiliated with the Sungu Sungu. The threats have forced Owida to take precautions and change locations frequently, he said.  

Local police officer Naomi Ichami, was quoted in news reports as saying that the district criminal investigation officer had launched an investigation into the matter.

“We are alarmed by the threats against Sam Owida and call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate,” said Tom Rhodes, CPJ’s East Africa consultant. “Authorities must ensure Owida’s safety and revive investigations into Nyaruri’s brutal murder.”

A close friend of Nyaruri, Owida was the first person to identify the bound and decapitated body of the late reporter.

At the private Weekly Citizen, Nyaruri had exposed corruption by the local administration in the western town of Nyamira, the victim’s relatives told CPJ.

While many journalists were afraid to cover the story, Owida spoke on vernacular radio stations in western Kenya and published reports in several newspapers highlighting Nyaruri’s murder and subsequent investigations.
-0- PANA PR/VAO 23Dec2010

23 décembre 2010 17:45:27

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