Marine jailed for 16 years for murder of Kenyan Olympic champion’s daughter
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 25, 2019
STUTTGART, Germany — A U.S. Marine was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a Swiss court for the 2017 murder of a 31-year-old nurse who was the daughter of a Kenyan Olympic champion, Marine Forces Europe confirmed Tuesday.
Cpl. Reuben Chebon Mwei, originally assigned to 2nd Maintenance Battalion, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was convicted of murder and false imprisonment Monday, the Marines said in a statement.
“The U.S. Marine Corps does not tolerate violent criminal behavior and has cooperated fully with the Swiss criminal investigation,” said Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway, MARFOREUR spokesman. “Our thoughts are with the family of the victim of this violent crime.”
Mwei was on leave when the murder occurred and was administratively assigned to MARFOREUR during the course of the legal case, Rankine-Galloway said.
While Switzerland is neutral and hosts no U.S. bases, U.S. Army Europe’s Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli is the designated commanding officer related to activities in the country.
“This means that USAREUR has responsibilities for ensuring the rights of any U.S. personnel in Switzerland are protected,” said Maj. Traun Moore, a USAREUR spokesman.
The Kenyan-born, 31-year-old Marine was a distant relative of the victim, according to Switzerland’s ATS news agency.
The victim, Faith Chepkosgei Korir, was stabbed to death in January 2017 in her apartment in the village of Reconvilier, around 40 miles northwest of the Swiss capital, Swiss and Kenyan media reported.
Korir was the daughter of Julius Korir, who won the gold medal in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Now 59, the Olympic champion traveled to Switzerland for the hearing. Addressing the court in Swahili, Julius Korir said, “I want to know why he came from America to murder my daughter,” the Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported.
Mwei was alleged to be in love with the victim, who had been a long-time acquaintance, ATS reported.
The police were called to Korir’s apartment in 2017 because of reports of a heated argument at the home. When authorities arrived, they found the woman dead from stab wounds and the American injured, ATS reported.
The prosecution argued that the man injured himself after killing Korir, ATS reported. The defense countered that the two had agreed to kill each other as part of a suicide pact, an argument the court rejected.
The victim was married to a Swiss man, and the couple was active in the local running scene and frequently hosted African runners for races, ATS said.
In the days after the 2017 murder, Korir’s husband spoke of his loss to Kenyan media.
“She was a very good and careful mother, a fighter in life to success, very intelligent, always smiling but very discreet. She kept her problems to herself to manage alone,” Florian Wahli told Kenya’s Citizen Digital.
“She adapted to new places very quickly, such as speaking French. We miss her too much I cannot believe,” he said.