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5 Suspects Arrested Over Murder of LGBTQ+ Activist

Edwin Chiloba
Activist Edwin Chiloba

One of the suspects detained by police is a long-time friend of the well-known Kenyan activist. 

Five people have been detained in Kenya in connection to the murder of LGBTQ+ rights activist Edwin Chiloba. His body was found last week mutilated and stuffed in a metal box.

Authorities say they are investigating whether the murder came out of a love triangle involving Chiloba, Voice of America reports. Local activists have called the killing a hate crime.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya.

One of the five who appeared in court on Monday was Jacktone Odhiambo, who reportedly was a friend of Chiloba.

"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.

Chiloba's body was found almost 25 miles away from where he lived on January 3. Someone saw the metal trunk being thrown from a moving car.

"He died a painful death," an unidentified police officer based in Eldoret told reporters, according to Agence-France Presse.

"We've also seen increased homophobia, especially online," local LGBTQ+ activist Fahe Kerubo said. "We've seen a lot of increased violation of incidents among the queer community or that is directed toward the LGBTQ community."

Pan Africa ILGA wrote on Twitter last week, "Edwin who was a Kenyan LGBTIQ+ activist, model and humanitarian was well known for his passion for fashion and activism."

"We pray that his soul will rest in power as police continue to investigate the incidents that led to his death. We pray for comfort for his family and friends and all activists in Kenya." the group. "We will continue to follow this and provide all support to Kenyan activists as this situation presents a worrying environment for them."

Several local human rights groups, including Amnesty International Kenya, praised 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.

The groups also called for the repeal of the country's anti-LGBTQ+ laws.

"Homophobic and hate based rhetoric by leaders and media sensationalization of Edwin Chiloba's murder only serves to incite violence against queer Kenyans. Online cyber-bullying using religion and culture raises the level of intolerance, hatred and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals," they said. "It is time for our society to come together and stand up for the rights and safety of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Out U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price tweeted, "Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of prominent Kenyan LGBTQI+ community member Edwin Chiloba. We call for full accountability for his death."

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