In a murder trial at the Eldoret High Court, a witness provided insight into the relationship between the late long-distance runner Agnes Tirop and her husband Ibrahim Rotich.
Victor Lapita Koilel, a witness and a training partner of the deceased athlete, mentioned that Rotich had expressed intentions to break Tirop’s legs.
Koilel, who trained with Tirop in Iten, shared details of their association, highlighting key moments leading up to her untimely death on October 13, 2021.
Koilel told the court that one of the key training moments with the deceased was months before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“In April 2021, she went for trials at Kasarani, for the Olympics. We went together. After the trial, we went to Iten again for training,” he told the court.
“After training for days in Iten, I went with her to Kasarani again. I went with her to help her pace. We were at Kasarani for two weeks.”
After the training at Kasarani Tirop proceeded to the Olympics, while Koilel returned to Iten.
“I called Ibrahim Rotich while she was at the Olympics to inform him that I was back in Iten. I knew him as the husband of the deceased. He didn’t receive my call.” The Court heard on Monday, December 4.
Tensions Rise After Tirop’s Participation in Tokyo Olympics
According to Koilel, after Tirop participated in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, tensions arose in her relationship with Rotich. They had a disagreement, prompting Tirop to leave her matrimonial home and seek refuge with her parents.
Ibrahim Rotich reportedly met with Koilel to inquire about the happenings during their training period at Kasarani.
During their conversation, Rotich disclosed that he and Tirop had differences, resulting in her departure to her parents’ home. Rotich allegedly instructed Koilel not to communicate with Tirop if she called.
“He didn’t open up to me in detail. I didn’t understand what he meant.”
Tirop later contacted Koilel and asked him to stay with her in Mosoriot, revealing the marital discord and the accusation that Rotich intended to break her legs.
“A week later, Agness called me and told me to go and stay with her in Mosoriot. She told me to go home because they had differed with Ibrahim. I went to Mosoriot after she sent me the fare.”
The witness affirmed that Tirop seemed genuinely distressed while sharing this information.
“She said she asked Ibrahim (Rotich) why he uses a lot of money in clubs. She told me she went home because Ibrahim wanted to break her legs. She seemed shocked while she was telling me these words.”
After three weeks in Mosoriot, they returned to Iten for training, but the issues with Rotich remained unresolved.
Tirop Shattered 10km World Record Despite Marital Tension
Following days of training and despite the ongoing marital tension, Agnes Tirop traveled to Germany to participate in the 10km race, where she shattered the world record for a women-only race, clocking a time of 30:01 at the Adizero Road To Records event in Herzogenaurach.
“She came back to Iten after smashing the record in Germany. She told me she wanted to try a 5-kilometre race. She stayed at the camp the time she was at Iten.” The witness testified.
However, the marital problems persisted, and on October 9, 2021, Tirop asked Koilel to accompany her to Mosoriot to visit her parents. During the visit, Tirop showed Koilel the land she had bought for her parents.
“We got into a matatu with her sister. While we were at their home she showed me the piece of land she bought her parents, and then we left the farm and went back to their home,” he said.
“The following day (October 10, 2021) we took tea, and I went to take care of their cows on the roadside. A taxi came and picked her up, I didn’t know the person in it.”
Koilel then returned to Iten. He stated that he did not hear from Tirop that day.
“That day I never talked to her, I waited for her call all in vain. The following day (October 11, 2021) I proceeded to train lonely. I inquired the accused person (Ibrahim Rotich) where she was and he said that he too was not aware of where she was,” the court heard from Koilel.
“She told me they had sorted out their differences”
On October 11, 2021, the witness inquired about Tirop’s whereabouts from Rotich, who claimed not to know. Tirop later called Koilel, informing him that she was returning to her matrimonial home, having reconciled with her husband.
“She told me they had sorted their differences with the accused person. She went to his home. I was not with her, I didn’t see her that day. The following day (October 12, 2021), I called her sister to ask if she had heard anything about the deceased.
“I called her again later to ask if he had talked to her. She told me that Agnes had gone for training for four days. I told her to call the deceased to check if she was okay.”
Koilel told the court that Tirop’s sister made several attempts to reach her on the phone in vain.
“Her sister called her and still she was not receiving calls. Ibrahim (the husband) too didn’t pick up our calls. I called her parents and told them to come to Iten. Both of them came to Iten, at around 7 or 8 pm,” he said.
“We went to the police station to report at Iten. At the time, I was with the deceased’s father, her mother and others.”
Too Late for Police To Take Action
Koilel mentioned that they were advised to return the next day as it was too late to take action at the time. The following day, they went to the station along with Agnes’ parents, and it was decided that they would visit her matrimonial home.
Tragically, Koilel recounted the events leading to the discovery of Tirop’s lifeless body.
“We went where Agnes and the accused person were staying. We got the gate closed, and one of us jumped over and opened the gate,” he told the court.
“We got into the compound and found the doors to the house too closed. We were with the police. We peeped through the window, I saw her lying on the floor in the bedroom in a pool of blood, dead. I shouted.”
“We broke into the house and found Tirop was in indeed dead. Police took the body to the morgue.”
The murder trial continues Tuesday.