A suspect has been arrested after the murder in Kenya of an LGBTQ rights activist, whose body was discovered in a metal trunk, sparking a national outcry, police said on Friday.
The body of Edwin Chiloba, a 25-year-old designer and model, was found on the side of the road some 40 km from the Rift Valley town of Eldoret on Wednesday, according to local media.
In Kenya, LGBTQ people face precariousness and discrimination in a predominantly Christian and conservative society where homosexuality is taboo, as in many African countries.
Sexual relations between people of the same sex are punishable by law, with penalties of up to 14 years in prison.
“We have a suspect in custody, we are investigating his role in this murder,” said Peter Kimulwo, head of investigations at the Office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Eldoret.
“We are holding him as the main suspect, because there are clues pointing to him but all of this is under investigation,” he added to the press.
According to him, the suspect is a longtime friend of the victim. Police are also looking for people who were seen loading a metal safe into a car at the victim's home.
According to a police source who requested anonymity, Edwin Chilobat was "strangled" after being "tortured".
"To continue to see an escalation in violence targeting LGBTQ Kenyans is truly concerning," the Kenyan Human Rights Commission said in a statement Friday. "Every day, the rights of LGBTQ people are violated with no real consequence for the perpetrators", she denounced, urging the police "to carry out rapid investigations and ensure that the killers are apprehended and prosecuted".
The LGBTQ Feminist Forum, in western Kenya where Edwin Chiloba lived, pointed out that the designer had used "fashion to deconstruct gender and promote the rights of the marginalized community".
"We want to know, as a community, what happened to Edwin, why he was murdered and who deposited his body at the scene," said the group's director of programs, Becky Mududa.
In April, another LGBTQ activist had already been found murdered in Kenya.