ICC gets new witnesses on Kiambaa killings
ELDORET, KENYA: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has flown out of the country two new witnesses, said to have fresh details on how the Kiambaa KAG Church in Eldoret was burned down.
The two were flown to Europe just days before Christmas. They had earlier on been interrogated in a neighbouring country where they are said to have given credible and consistent information on the church incident.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited the Kiambaa Church on October 26, last year and sought to know more details on the church fire incident. Bensouda said there had been conflicting information especially as concerns the exact number of people who were in the church and those who died.
“The two new witnesses have credible information on what transpired and this may bolster the case against Kenyan suspects expected to face trials at The Hague starting April,” said a source close to the investigation.
The source said ICC investigators have been interrogating people on the poll violence but eight of them who had been picked as possible witnesses have since been dismissed as not credible after they gave conflicting information.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Radio journalist Joshua Sang are expected to have the hearing of their case commence on April 11 at The Hague.
They face charges of crimes against humanity and it is alleged that they planned the poll violence in 2007/2008 during which more than 1,300 people were killed while another 500,000 were displaced, mostly in the Rift Valley.
The two new witnesses are said to have been at a home near the church during the incident, which occurred on January I, 2008. There have been different theories on what transpired during the incident.
One theory claims there may have been a gas cylinder in the church, which exploded as hundreds of families were seeking refuge following the poll chaos.
Another theory, however, indicated that a group of armed people attacking the church locked it from outside and set it ablaze. About 35 people who died in the poll violence including those who were not identified have been buried in the church compound.
Sources also indicate that the ICC has in its possession as evidence part of the communication between individuals concerning the fire incident at the church. Investigation into the poll violence is continuous and the prosecutors may use the new witnesses when the cases come up for hearing.
The court already has several witnesses placed under protection outside the country. Ruto and Sang face similar charges in Case One while Uhuru and Muthaura are in Case Two. They have hired prominent defence lawyers who will lead their defence.
All the suspects have denied the charges but the court confirmed the charges setting stage for the hearings.