TW: Graphic violence detail
Five people have now been arrested in Kenya in connection to the murder of LGBTQ+ activist Edwin Chiloba. His body was found last week, on a roadside near the the western town of Eldoret, having been mutilated and stuffed into a metal trunk.
According to reports, preliminary investigations showed Chiloba – full name Edwin Kiprotich Kipruto – died by strangulation and was found with his eyes gouged out.
Edwin Chiloba was an amazing human. He was bold, passionate, his energy was immaculate. He embodied fashion. Someone murdered him cruelly, put his body in a box & dumped his body.
Edwin we speak your name. May yr blood not spill for nothing. Stop killing queer people. pic.twitter.com/aSgwyTSqnM
— Njeri Wa Migwi™ (@NjeriWaMigwi) January 5, 2023
Five people have now been detained in Kenya in connection to the murder. Local advocacy groups at first said the killing was likely motivated by homophobia, but authorities are also investigating whether the murder came as result of a love triangle involving Chiloba.
Among the five suspects arraigned in court in Eldoret on Monday was Jacktone Odhiambo, a freelance photographer said to be a friend of the 25-year-old victim.
“We want the culprits or the murderers of my brother to be charged according to the Kenyan law,” Gaudensia Chirchir, Chiloba’s cousin said, speaking on behalf of the family.
The official motive for the killing is still to be determined.
Homosexuality is taboo in Kenya and across much of Africa and gay people often face discrimination or persecution. Attempts to overturn British colonial-era laws banning homosexuality in Kenya have proven unsuccessful, and gay sex remains a punishable crime with penalties that include imprisonment of up to 14 years.
Chiloba’s body was found on January 3, almost 25 miles away from where he lived, after someone saw the metal trunk where he had been placed being thrown from a moving car.
Police say a motorcycle taxi operator reported seeing the box being dumped by a vehicle with no license plates. The rider reported the incident to police officers who were manning a nearby roadblock.
Officers who opened the box found the decomposing body of a man, whom they described as wearing women’s clothes.
Soon after the news broke, videos began circulating on the internet of Chiloba hours before his murder, seemingly out celebrating with friends, and also graphic videos of his body being recovered, hours later. We won’t be including those videos, for hopefully obvious reasons.
Numerous local human rights groups, including Amnesty International Kenya, have since thanked authorities for their response to Chiloba’s murder:
“We laud their efforts to ensure that perpetrators of this heinous act are brought before a court of law. We call upon the LGBTQ+ community and the general public to share additional information to help prosecute this case,” they wrote in a joint statement.
His name is Edwin Chiloba. He embodied authenticity and lived boldly. He was murdered, brutally. Say his name. pic.twitter.com/9FeiNHSvWB
— Nafula Wafula (@_NafulaWafula) January 5, 2023
We commend the @DCI_Kenya for swift investigations into the brutal murder of Edwin Chiloba resulting in a confession and arrest of 4 suspects. We applaud their efforts to ensure that perpetrators of this heinous act are brought before a court of law.https://t.co/n7su8Q0JLV pic.twitter.com/bb1UNdIgMm
— Amnesty Kenya (@AmnestyKenya) January 10, 2023