Family of murdered Limerick priest seek mercy for killers

Gerard Fitzgibbon

Reporter:

Gerard Fitzgibbon

THE FAMILY of murdered Athea priest Fr Jeremiah Roche have asked for mercy for the three Kenyan men who have been sentenced to death for his murder.

THE FAMILY of murdered Athea priest Fr Jeremiah Roche have asked for mercy for the three Kenyan men who have been sentenced to death for his murder.

The 68-year-old Kiltegan father, who had lived and worked in Kenya for 41 years, was brutally stabbed to death by intruders at his home on the outskirts of Kericho, 200km outside of the capital Nairobi on December 11 2009.

This Tuesday a court in Nairobi sentenced Isaac Kipng’etick Bett, Jackson Cheruiyot Koskei, Joshua Maranga Makori to death after they were convicted of robbery with violence.

Two other men were sentenced to 14 years of hard labour in prison after they were found to be in possession of a number of items which were stolen from Fr Roche’s home.

Four other men were acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

However following the verdict Fr Roche’s niece, Anne Cunningham, said that while the family are glad to have justice, they do not wish to see any of the men executed.

“We sincerely hope justice has been done. Jerry stood firmly on the side of justice, but always by peaceful means.

“We are not in favour of the death penalty or punishment by any violent means. It will not bring Jerry back.

“We understand the death penalty has not been enforced in Kenya since 1987, and our wish would be that it not be enforced in this instance either”.

Fr Roche was a hugely man whose murder sent shockwaves throughout the local community. Thousands attended his funeral. He spent 40 years working with the Kiltegan fathers in Kenya and Somalia since his ordination in 1968, and was actively involved in youth development projects in Kericho.

He frequently paid visits to his friends and family in Athea, and had been planning to retire to a renovated cottage in Athea just before he was murdered.