A witness described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) some of the assignments done by an assistant to Kenyan Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, who is on trial for his alleged role in violence that occurred after the December 2007 election.
Witness 613 told Trial Chamber V(a) on Wednesday that Farouk Kibet was usually seen with Ruto in 2007, and Kibet always represented Ruto at functions he was unable to attend in person. She said such functions included harambees, a Swahili word that is commonly used in Kenya to mean a fundraising event. The witness first mentioned Kibet in court when she was listing the people she remembered who were present at a political meeting she attended at Ruto’s home in Sugoi in the greater Eldoret area.
Trial lawyer Lucio Garcia asked the witness how she came to know Kibet. Before she answered, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji asked that the court go into private session. Witness 613 is testifying under court-ordered protective measures to prevent her identity from being revealed to the public. Hearing some of the witness’s testimony in private session instead of in open court is one measure to protect the identity of the witness. This is in cases where the witness may state things that could reveal her identity, and there is no other way of receiving her testimony. Portions of the witness’s testimony were given in private session on Wednesday.
Other protective measures the court ordered for Witness 613 include her voice and face being distorted so that anyone following the live stream of the court’s proceedings cannot identify her. There are blinds and curtains that protect her from being seen by anyone in the public gallery of the court. Only the people in the courtroom can see her or hear her real voice.
The meeting at Ruto’s Sugoi home is one of three political events Witness 613 said she attended in the lead up to the December 2007 election. She said she attended the meeting after a person she identified as number four told her there was going to be a gathering at Ruto’s home for women leaders. Witness 613 identified the person from a number given on a protected information sheet. The witness used the sheet as another measure to prevent her from revealing information about her identity. The sheet has numbers for each place and person close to her that she can refer to when testifying in open court.
Witness 613 said the meeting at Ruto’s home was attended by members of parliament, council members, and other local leaders. She said the participants of the meeting were Kalenjin, Luo, and Luhya. She also said the main purpose of the meeting was to urge those present to support the Orange Democratic Movement party that was challenging the then President Mwai Kibaki and his Party of National Unity (PNU).
Ruto is on trial at the ICC with former journalist Joshua arap Sang for their alleged roles in the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 presidential poll. Ruto and Sang each face three counts of crimes against humanity.
The witness described two other political rallies she attended. The rallies were held in a place called Moi’s Bridge and in Turbo. She said both rallies were organized by the PNU and took place sometime in November 2007. The witness described herself as a PNU supporter. She said the majority of the attendees were Kikuyu. Witness 613 said the two rallies were disrupted by Kalenjin youth, and afterwards the PNU did not organize any more rallies in the area.
Witness 613 began describing what she saw on December 31, 2007 before the court adjourned for the day. She said that in the morning of December 31, 2007, she saw Kalenjin youth move from Sugoi to Turbo town. A short time later, some houses were on fire, said the witness. She clarified that she did not see who set the houses on fire because she was too far away to see. Witness 613 said she knew the youths were Kalenjin because of the screams they made, which she said were not the kind made by people from other ethnic groups.
Witness 613 will continue testifying on Thursday.