Suspects arrested for murder of Kenyan LGBTQ+ activist

Kenyan authorities detained Edwin Chiloba’s long-time partner Jackton Odhiambo, as well as three other suspects.

A photo of LGBTQ+ activist and fashion designer Edwin Chiloba.
Image: Via Twitter: @TheHotSeatNews

CW: Descriptions of physical violence

It is reported that local police have arrested several suspects in connection with the murder of Kenyan LGBTQ+ activist Edwin Chiloba. The body of the 25-year-old fashion designer was found stashed in a metal box in the town of Kapsaret on Thursday, January 5.

On Friday, police reportedly said that they had arrested Jackton Odhiambo, freelance photographer and long-time partner of Chiloba. Authorities in the Kenyan town of Eldoret state that neighbours reported hearing loud arguments when the pair arrived home after celebrating on New Year’s Eve.

On January 3, neighbours complained of a foul smell coming from Edwin’s apartment, and claimed they “saw a vehicle leaving the apartment with two gentlemen alongside the suspect who loaded the box on the vehicle.”

On Sunday, January 8, an additional three suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing and detained for their alleged role in disposing of the remains. The Star reports that a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out on Monday to determine a cause of death.

An unidentified member of the police force in Kenya has told the media that Chiloba “died a painful death…They must have tortured him and then gouged out his eye. It appears he was strangled.”

Edwin Chiloba was a popular LGBTQ+ activist and designer, famous for his commitment to queer rights in a country where homosexuality is punishable by 14 years imprisonment. The Kenyan LGBTQ+ community continues to face violence and discrimination and efforts to decriminalise same-sex activity have been repeatedly thwarted.

Human rights organisations have expressed concern for other LGBTQ+ people’s safety, including UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk. Yesterday, he tweeted in solidarity with queer activists worldwide, stating that there is an “Urgent need to redouble efforts for their protection.”

In a tweet posted on Friday, the Kenyan branch of Amnesty wrote that “No human life is worth less than another.” Adding that they, “demand speedy investigations into the brutal murder of Edwin Chiloba.

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