The presiding judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has cautioned a defense lawyer and a witness in a case facing three Kenyan figures against misconduct.
Judge Ekatarina Trendafilova made the statement after a defense witness finished his testimony on Saturday, during the third day of hearings aimed at helping the chamber filter the prosecution’s evidence against three Kenyan figures and determine whether it is sufficient to go to trial with. She cited parts of three articles in the ICC’s Code on Professional Conduct for Counsel and asked defence lawyer Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa to provide the witness’ statements as soon as possible.
The witness, Henry Kiptoo Murei, had told the chamber on Saturday he had written a statement in his own hand and signed it before Kigen-Katwa early this year. Murei said that later Kigen-Katwa presented him with another prepared statement that he also signed. It is these statements that Judge Trendafilova wants given to the chamber.
Murei was the second witness to testify on Saturday and had been called by the lawyers of former Kenyan Higher Education Minister William Samoei Ruto. Ruto, together with former Industrialisation Minister Henry Kiprono Kosgey, and prominent radio broadcaster Joshua arap Sang are suspects in one of two cases the ICC prosecutor has prepared against Kenyan figures. The prosecution wants Ruto, Kosgey, and Sang charged with three counts of crimes against humanity each.
Earlier, a former chief of the Kenyan president’s security told the chamber he never hosted meetings or distributed arms before or during the political violence that took Kenya to the brink of civil war in early 2008.
In its presentation Friday, the prosecution had named Samson Cheramboss, who served as the head of presidential security in the 1990s, as one of three individuals who were commanders of a military wing that Ruto allegedly supervised.
Ruto’s legal team called Cheramboss to testify Saturday in support of their assertion that Ruto was not the leader of “a network of perpetrators,” nor did he supervise a military wing.
Cheramboss, who served in the Kenya police force for 37 years, said he only saw Ruto once during campaigns ahead of the December 2007 General Elections. At the time they did not talk, Cheramboss told judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II. More than a year later, after the election and violence in which more than 1,000 people died ended, Ruto visited the Cheramboss home, the former police officer said. Cheramboss also said he was not involved in any distribution of arms before or during the violence that occurred between December 2007 and February 2008.
“No meeting was ever held at my place at my house in December as alleged,” Cheramboss said. “I don’t remember attending any meeting with Hon. (William Samoei) Ruto or Hon. (Henry Kiprono) Kosgey.”
The prosecution alleges some meetings to organize attacks in the Rift Valley region during that period took place in Cheramboss’ house and Ruto and Kosgey participated in those meetings. The prosecution also asserted that Cheramboss took part in meetings held at Ruto’s house. On Saturday, Cheramboss said he had never been to Ruto’s house, and he lives about 130 kilometres away from Ruto.
Part of Cheramboss’ testimony was made in a private session closed to the public because lawyer Kigen-Katwa, representing Sang, had some questions touching on confidential information.
Later in the day, Ruto’s lawyers called Murei, also known by his clan or family name Kabasorwa. Murei, a farmer, is currently serving as the chairman of the peace committee in Eldoret West District, which is part of the constituency that Ruto represents in the Kenyan National Assembly.
Murei, who said he lives about 100 meters away from Ruto’s home in Eldoret town, told Pre-Trial Chamber II that he is only aware of four meetings held in Ruto’s home before the December 2007 elections and those related to the campaigns. He said he participated in all those meetings, and he did not see any arms being distributed.
“During the four meetings that were held in the home of Mr (William Samoei) Ruto I did not see (Samson) Cheramboss and I was there,” Murei told the judges. “I am telling this court that there were no weapons that were distributed.”
Both Cheramboss and Murei held the view that the violence that erupted in late 2007 was spontaneous and was a response to the botched presidential result. The hearings continue on Monday.