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Venezuelan envoy to Kenya found strangled

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The acting Venezuelan envoy to Kenya has been found dead at her official residence in Nairobi, with police saying she was murdered by strangulation.

Anthony Kibuchi, Nairobi's police chief, said that the diplomat killed on Friday had been identified as Olga Fonseca Gimenez, the charge d'affaires and acting ambassador of Venezuela in Kenya.

"Police can confirm that the diplomat was strangled to death this morning, and the body is still lying at the house as we investigate circumstances leading to the death," Kibuchi said.

Kenya's ministry of foreign affairs said Fonseca reported to the embassy in Nairobi on July 15 to replace Ambassador Gerardo Carillo-Silva.

Venezuela's foreign ministry mourned Fonseca's death in a statement, saying she had had a "brilliant and committed diplomatic career".

The ministry said President Hugo Chavez's government trusts that the criminal investigation by Kenyan authorities will determine what happened and who was responsible.

Kibuchi said investigations into the death had begun and police had questioned two staff members at the residence.

Harassment claims

Fonseca arrived in Kenya in July to replace Carrillo-Silva, who had fled the country after three male workers at the ambassador's residence filed a complaint with the police accusing him of sexual harassment, a lawyer representing the workers said.

Ngure Mbugua said he started representing the workers after police did not act against the complaints.

He said he pressed Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the Venezuelan government to waive the diplomat's immunity against prosecution so that the envoy could be arrested and charged in Kenya or Venezuela.

Mbugua said Carrillo-Silva fled before the process was complete.

He said after her arrival the workers told him that Fonseca demanded that the workers withdraw their sexual abuse complaints against her predecessor.

Mbugua said that on Tuesday Fonseca called for a meeting between him and her lawyer in which she insisted that she would fire the workers who lodged the complaints because of insubordination.

Mbugua said Fonseca's lawyer, Njeri Mucheru-Oyatta, advised her against firing the workers because they have contracts.

Fonseca then said she would consult with the foreign ministry in Caracas, Mbugua said.

Mucheru-Oyatta confirmed their meeting and said in the early stages of the investigation it was impossible to tell the motives behind her murder.

Mbugua said the workers he was representing were recording statements with the police over Fonseca's death.


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