Monday, May 27, 2024

ICC Witness hitch dogs Ruto’s trial

icc-picDeputy President William Ruto’s defence team Tuesday complained about lack of witnesses at the trial saying it was inconveniencing the lawyers.

One of the lawyers, Mr David Hooper, said the prosecution needed to ensure that there was no witness delay.

“The prosecution team lives here and resides here so they are not as inconvenienced by the lack of witnesses.

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They should up their game because the delay with witnesses is inconveniencing us because we have to leave and return depending on their availability,” he said.

Prosecution lawyer Lorenzo Pugliati said the next witness was expected to appear before the trial judges in the first week of July, after the 20th witness P-0405 finishes giving his evidence Wednesday.

However, presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the matter would be discussed further today, when the prosecution, the defence and victims’ lawyers are expected to dispense with the witness.

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The session on Monday was postponed because of a witness hitch.

This has rocked the trial for the most part as it seeks to conclude the case against Mr Ruto, former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang and President Kenyatta, who are facing charges in relation to the 2007/08 post-election violence.

Tuesday, a video clip was played showing UDF leader Musalia Mudavadi, speaking in Kiswahili during the coronation of Mr Ruto as a Kalenjin elder at the Eldoret Sports club in 2006.

He said their rivals, PNU supporters, were “sharpening their knives” preparing to attack the ODM party and that the latter would also do the same to their rivals.

Mr Hooper accused the prosecution of seeking to place everyone in a “fools’ corner” by playing the clip up to the section where Mr Mudavadi’s completes his statement, arguing that if the tape was played further, the meaning and context of his message would have been different.

The prosecution team is expected to continue to cross examine the witness tomorrow, before the defence and victims’ lawyers also take their time with the witness.

Tuesday, witness P-0405 said he witnessed the eruption of violence at Wiyumbi near Eldoret Town and its environs.

The witness said claims of stuffed ballot boxes by PNU supporters triggered the post-election violence around the Rift Valley region.

The violence in Eldoret Town started on December 26, a day before Kenyans went to vote, with ODM supporters alleging that their rivals in PNU had stuffed ballot boxes so as to rig the election in their favour.

He claimed Mr Ruto, then a member of the ODM Pentagon, was among those alleging that PNU, whose candidate was former President Mwai Kibaki, wanted to rig elections before the actual contest.

“He (Mr Ruto) addressed a group of supporters at a police station within Eldoret Town amidst riots in the town, where he accused the PNU of planning to rig the elections,” he said.

The witness spoke regarding an area in Eldoret known as Yamumbi, from he said he witnessed some of the violence, often hiding in bushes to escape the wrath of the attackers.

One of the premises targeted by the ODM supporters was the Brookside Dairy plant, associated with the Kenyatta family, which they wanted to torch, claiming the stuffed ballot boxes were being hidden there, the court was told.

The witness who was being cross-examined by Mr Pugliatti, said voting on December 27 went on smoothly until December 30, when election results were to be announced, and suddenly Mr Kibaki of PNU started overtaking Mr Odinga of ODM, who had been leading all along, according to results that had been streaming in.

He said after Mr Kibaki, was announced to have overtaken Mr Odinga and was set for a win Kikuyus in the Rift Valley started celebrating, while the ODM supporters, mostly Kalenjin, Luo, Luhyas and Turkanas, appeared saddened by the events.

Violence erupted that day at night with several some houses belonging to the Kikuyus being set on fire, and several people from the community mostly women and children, abandoning their houses to seek refuge from Kalenjin youths, who were targeting their property with match sticks.

“A group of youth from neighbouring Kalenjin farms, aged about 16-18 years and armed with spears, went from house to house belonging to Kikuyus and setting them on fire,” he said.

Mr Ruto, then a senior member of ODM is said to have arrived at his house the following day in a saloon car, accompanied by two policemen to evacuate his family to safety.

The witness said some of the houses and businesses belonging to Kikuyus were looted before being set on fire either by the Kalenjin or Luos, depending on where they were situated.

Tuesday’s session was interspersed with several requests by Mr Garcia for private sessions, so as to get further details from the witness away from the glare of the public, requests which were granted by presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji.

Deputy President William Ruto is received by Mr Anginy Otieno on arrival at the ICC last Friday. His defence team on Tuesday complained about lack of witnesses at the trial saying it was inconveniencing the lawyers. PHOTO/DPPS

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