A man whose father and brother were killed when armed youths set the Kiambaa church on fire where victims of the post election violence had sought refuge has withdrawn his testimony against Deputy President William Ruto.
The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, has reportedly written to chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda saying that he no longer wished to be her witness against Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang.
In his affidavit, the witness who asked Bensouda to delete all his evidence from her record said that he does not recall the accused uttering any inciting statements or participating in the violence.
“I sign this affidavit to recant all and any statements that have been attributed to me. This disposition is made by me on my own free will and without any duress, coercion or inducement,” the witness says int he affidavit which came just hours before the case against Ruto and Sang starts.
He becomes the seventh witness to withdraw from the case in the last few months. He is however the first from the Kikuyu community to recant his evidence. The rest have been from the Kalenjin community.
At least 32 people,mostly women and children, died when marauding youths set the church where hundreds of people displaced by the fighting in Kimuru had sought refuge. Seventeen people were burned alive in the church and another 11 died in or on the way to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.Another 54 people who were injured were treated and discharged following the January 1,2008 incident.
“Upon reflection and soul-searching, I do not desire to continue as a witness in the case. My name should therefore be removed from the list of witnesses in this case,” the affidavit reads.
Bensouda in her Pre-Trial Brief claims that on November 23, 2007, Ruto and 100 prominent Kalenjin leaders and 3,000 youths gathered at the Mimuri farm of businessman Mark Too to plan the attack. She claims that Ruto addressed the meeting and stated that the youth would be taken care of and asked to be informed if there was any shortage of money. Bensouda claims it was this group of youths who attacked the Kiambaa church soon after the election results were announced.
“Ruto himself had identified Kiambaa as a target for attack and as being densely populated with Kikuyu. Further, Rutp’s close associate, Mark Too hosted several planning/preparatory meetings at his compound near Kiambaa in the months preceding the elections,” Bensouda says in her brief.
The withdrawal of witnesses dominated a joint press conference held at the Hague yesterday. The parties indicated the trend as ‘worrying.”
Bensouda said she was still investigating allegations that many of witnesses had been intimidated and bribed to withdraw from the cases.
Sang’s lawyer Katwa Kigen said that his client had not contacted any of the witnesses while Ruto’s lead counsel Karim Khan appealed to the witnesses not to withdraw.
“On the instructions of his excellency the Deputy President, I am asking all Kenyans to allow the prosecution and the defence to do their work. Witnesses should not withdraw but they should instead come and tell the truth,” Khan said.