A Clergyman who heads a Church in Kenya today testified as a witness for Kenyan radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang, telling Pre-Trial Chamber Judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague that an organization of which he is a patron did not raise money to support violence in Kenya.
Bishop Jackson Kosgei is the second and final witness who testified in the confirmation of charges hearing in the case of two Kenyan Members of Parliament, William Samoei Ruto and Henry Kosgey, and radio journalist Sang. All three are suspected of taking part in the commission of crimes against humanity during the Port-Elections Violence (PEV) in Kenya in December 2007 to January 2008. Prosecutors allege that the three suspects were part of an organization and network that developed a common plan to eliminate members of the Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii tribes who supported the Party of National United (PNU) from the Rift Valley Province of Kenya and to make the community a voting block for the mainly Kalenjin tribe and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) of which Mr. Ruto and Mr. Kosgey are members.
Prosecutors say that as part of their plan, the members of the network, through an organization named EMO Foundation/EMO Community Development Society/EMO Investment raised money to support the common plan by violent means. Prosecutors have referenced several alleged meetings where monies were raised, violence planned and materials to execute the violent plan distributed. All these meetings and plannings, Prosecutors say, were done with the involvement of EMO Foundation/EMO Community Development Society/EMO Investment.
Today, Bishop Kosgei told the Pre-Trial Chamber Judges that the prosecution allegations are false. According to the Bishop, though their memberships are inter-related, EMO Foundation, EMO Community Development Society and EMO Investment are three separate entities, with three different registration statuses. None of these is affiliated to a political party and none of the suspects is a member of the entities, Bishop Kosgei told the court.
Explaining the registration statuses of these entities, Bishop Kosgei said that they were all registered at different times and while the EMO Community Development Society and EMO Investment were registered before the 2007 elections in, the EMO Foundation was only registered in December 2010. The Bishop said that he is a Patron of the EMO Foundation and EMO Community Development Society and a Honorary Director of EMO Investment. The Foundation and the Development Society are both NGOs that are involved in charity and welfare work, while the Investment was formed by members of the Society who wanted to raise money to purchase a huge plot of land.
On specific days that meetings were alleged to have taken place at first suspect Mr. Ruto’s house and at Sirikwa hotel in Eldoret, the witness said that he was not present at any of the said meetings. He insisted that there was “no common business to warrant having meetings together” with the three suspects.
The witness referenced occasions when he was a guest on radio programs that were hosted by Mr. Sang and events that were organized by his church and Foundation at which Sang was invited alongside other journalists. He insisted that he had no relationship with Mr. Sang outside these events.
Speaking about the other two suspects-Ruto and Kosgey, the witness said that he had no relationship with them and that the only time he had visited Mr. Ruto was when he was part of a delegation that paid a courtesy visit to the suspect when his father died.
The witness also disputed other prosecution allegations including that the suspects were part of a meeting to plan violence during which they took oaths by spilling the blood of dogs. He said that that such an activity did not fit the description the Kalenjin tribe of which all three suspects and the witness himself were members.
Bishop Kosgey also disputed claims that Mr. Sang used coded languages on his radio program as directives to Kalenji tribesmen to execute the violent plan of the alleged organization or network. The Bishop explained that several other non-members of the Kalenjin tribe could understand the Kalenjin language because they have interacted with each other for very many years. There was no way for one person to use coded language that could be directed only to Kalenjin speaking people, he told the court.
During cross-examination by Prosecutors, the witness insisted that he had not discussed his evidence with defense lawyers before coming to testify in The Hague. He said that when he realised that the name of his organization, EMO, had been mentioned in the case against the suspects, he called Mr. Sang to make clarifications and to express his willingness to testify in order to put the records straight.
The witness also responded to questions from the Common Legal representative for 327 victims, Ms. Sureta Chana. The witness agreed with Ms. Chana that serious crimes including murder, looting and destruction of property were committed during the PEV in Kenya.
In a very rare event in court, the witness asked to make a statement after he had concluded his evidence. Granted the opportunity to make his statement, the witness said that the manner in which the Prosecution had brought charges against the suspects has not only affected the three suspects, but has become an indictment on the entire Kalenjin community. He said the suggestion that the Kalenjin tribesmen wanted to drive other tribes from the Rift Valley Province in Kenya had implicated the 5 million Kalenjins who form over 12 percent of the Kenyan population. The Kalenjin community, he said, had not come under any threat or attack and there was therefore no reason for them to organize themselves to fight against other groups in the Rift Valley.
The presiding Judge of the Chamber, Judge Ekatarina Trendafilova immediately stopped the witness, telling him that there was no need for that statement and that the Chamber will only consider what is part of the evidence. She thanked the witness for taking his time to help the Chamber with the proceedings.
When the proceedings resume on Friday, all parties will have the chance to make their closing statements before the confirmation of charges hearing is brought to a close.