Former US envoy Michael Rannerberger ‘fixed’ DP William Ruto at ICC

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Michael RannerbergerA defence lawyer at the International Criminal Court ( ICC) Monday implicated a former US envoy to Kenya in an alleged plot to fix Deputy President William Ruto in the on-going trial at The Hague.

Ruto’s lead counsel Karim Khan told the court that former American Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannerberger tried to recruit people to give evidence with the intention of fixing Ruto. During his cross-examination of witness 356, Khan said, “Are you aware Rannerberger was trying to get people to give evidence against Mr Ruto?” “No your honour,” said the witness.

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The claims were made as the defence sought to lay ground that many of the people who agreed to testify could have been motivated by financial gain. Khan argued witnesses could have minted millions of shillings through witness procurement and protection programmes that were allegedly funded by an American aid agency. For instance, the witness 356, admitted to have received more than USD 20,000 (Sh1.7 million) in not more than six months. At one moment, the witness admitted to have received at more than USD6000 (over Sh0.5 million) in two consecutive days alone.

The American connection had also been linked to a witness procurement programme that was allegedly being funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with several non-governmental organisations and several other individuals only identified with digits. USAID is an American funded agency that was created by former American President John. F. Kennedy though an executive order in 1961 to help improve lives in the developing world and to assist in furthering America’s interests. According to Khan, USAID was actively involved in trying to procure witnesses to testify against the Deputy President. This, Khan said, was done through a group on non-governmental organisations among them Kalenjin Youth Alliance, Good Samaritan International and Anti-Torture Campaign Network among others.

Other individuals involved in running the witness protection programme according to Khan include Ken Wafula, Abubakar Juma, Jonah Ruto, George Bett, Thomas Ngetich and other three individuals only identified as person numbers 12,13 and 15. Khan further told the court that the key contact for USAID in driving the said programme was an NGO known as Chemonics owned by one Mark Lawar and who also owns Wild Restaurant and Bar.

“Are you aware Mr witness that people including Wafula, Abubakar Juma Jonah Ruto, George Bett, Thomas Ngetich 12,13 and 15 knew completely well the stories they were receiving were false but they took those accounts because they were getting money,” said Khan. “I was not aware your honour,” responded the witness. The witness told the court that he had mentioned to an organization offering witness protection that his life was under threat.

“They told you that if you are under threat you could be placed under witness protection,” posed Khan “It was me who told them I was under threat,” responded the witness. Centre for Human Rights and Democracy was also among the non-governmental organisations mention by the defence counsel.

The defence further accused the witness of spending much of his money on alcohol saying ‘Over a period of two days you got Sh600k and you had been earning less than Sh100, 000 per year…You told the prosecution that you used to drink quite regularly even more than six bottles of Tusker, “said Khan but before the witness responded, the prosecution raised an objection to the line of questioning the defence had taken and demanded that the defence explain the relevance of that line of questioning. However, the defence would later raise the same question.  “When you used to drink you drunk to the limit,” said Khan.  “I drink to a point I feel that this is enough for me,” responded the witness

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