The defense for Deputy President William Sameoi Ruto accused a witness of lying about knowing Ruto’s homes, lying about his past, and making false expense claims to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ruto’s lead lawyer, Karim Khan, on Friday took Witness 356 to task about his knowledge of Ruto’s homes in Eldoret and Sugoi in the Rift Valley region. Khan claimed the witness did not know Ruto’s homes nor had he ever been there. The witness had testified earlier in the week that he attended a political meeting at one of Ruto’s homes.
When Khan showed the witness photos of two houses, the witness identified each of them as belonging to Ruto and their location. Khan confirmed that the houses did belong to Ruto, and the witness had given the correct location of each house. The photos were entered as defense exhibits.
Khan said Witness 356 did not know Ruto’s home in Sugoi because it had four bedrooms, yet the witness had testified in court that it had 10 to 15 rooms. Khan further said that statements made to the prosecution during interviews before the trial the witness had said the house had 15 to 20 rooms.
Khan then questioned Witness 356 about a theft he was accused of, which resulted in him being charged in a Kenyan court with the offense and sentenced to one month in prison. The witness identified from a protected information sheet the person who reported him to the police and the item he was accused of stealing. Khan accused the witness of stealing from someone else, but the witness denied doing so. Most of the questions about the witness’ previous record were asked in private session, so most other details were not made public.
Next, Khan questioned the witness about allegations that he had made false expense claims to the ICC. The witness denied making false claims. He said that in the case of one batch of receipts he was able to explain the confusion surrounding them to the ICC’s protection unit. Khan showed the witness several receipts for accommodation and transport expenses that Khan claimed the witness had falsified and the ICC had rejected. The witness denied he had falsified the receipts. Most of the questioning around the allegations of false expense claims was done in private session.
At the beginning of Friday’s hearing, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji announced the trial schedule until the court’s Easter break. He said the current session will continue to January 31 then adjourn hearings until February 17. He said that before the trial hearings resume on February 17, there will be a status conference on February 14. Judge Eboe-Osuji said that the status conference will be to receive submissions on an application by the prosecution asking the court to issue summons to seven witnesses who in the past had cooperated with the court but had recently ceased to do so.
Judge Eboe-Osuji said the hearings beginning on February 17 will continue to March 11 and then adjourn until March 31. He said those hearings would then continue until April 16 after which the court will go on Easter recess.
The scheduling announcement followed the decision of Trial Chamber V(b) to postpone the trial of President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, which was set to start on February 5. The judges in both trials had decided that they would have alternate hearings for each case so that when one trial is in progress the other will be on recess. The postponement of the Kenyatta trial opened up time for the Ruto and Sang trial.
Trial Chamber V(b) made its decision to postpone the Kenyatta trial on Thursday. Its decision is based on an application by the prosecution asking the judges to consider postponing the trial for three months because the prosecution was withdrawing two witnesses and needed time to gather additional evidence. Trial Chamber V(b)’s decision was also informed by the response of Kenyatta’s lawyers asking the judges to terminate the case in light of the prosecution’s application.
Trial Chamber V(b) ordered a status conference to be held on February 5 to receive submissions on the two issues. Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, who is also a member of Trial Chamber V(b), agreed with the decision of two fellow judges on postponing the trial but disagreed in a separate concurring opinion that the question of a new trial date should be considered together with the question of whether the trial should be terminated.