The prosecution’s first witness in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang continued her testimony in a session closed to the public Thursday following an order by the judges.
The three-member Trial Chamber V(a) reached the decision to have Witness 536 testify in closed session for security reasons. They made the ruling after the prosecution applied to the court to consider such a measure following attempts to reveal her identity when she first began testifying on Tuesday. Senior Trial Lawyer Anton Steynberg made the application at the start of Thursday’s hearing.
Karim Khan, Ruto’s lead defense lawyer, opposed the prosecution’s application, arguing that the measures that court had already taken to conceal the witness’ identity in court were sufficient to protect her. He said he did not understand why “the shutters should come down and the hearing should be put in closed session.” He said that the public has a right to hear what the witness had to say.
Joseph Kigen-Katwa, who represents Sang, also opposed the prosecution’s application. The lawyer for victims, Wilfred Nderitu, said that the circumstances facing the court were special and warranted the witness’ testimony to be heard in closed session. Nderitu said he had talked to the witness, who also happens to be one of the victims he represents, and she had been shaken by the attempt to expose her identity. He said the measures the court took to protect her identity would have an impact on her resolve to testify.
The judges retreated for about 10 minutes and then returned to announce their decision to hold the remainder of Witness 536’s testimony in closed session.