A lawyer for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto denied that his client spoke in code to call for the removal of the Kikuyu from the Rift Valley region. Instead, the lawyer sought to show that Ruto is a popular Kenyan politician.
Essa Faal, one of Ruto’s lawyers, began the defense of his client on Friday, questioning prosecution Witness 376 on the context in which Ruto used the Kiswahili word madoadoa, or “spots” in English. The witness had testified on Wednesday that Ruto used the term in campaign rallies as a code to his Kalenjin supporters that the Kikuyu should be removed from the Rift Valley. The campaigns in question were in the lead up to the December 2007 General Elections.
Faal played a video of a news report on one of the campaign rallies to illustrate his argument. He argued that the speaker in the video, Raila Odinga, used the word madoadoa to encourage Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) supporters to vote for the party’s candidates in three elective posts (councilor, National Assembly member and president), in order to avoid spoiling the vote. This, Faal argued, is referred to in Kenyan politics as a three-piece suit, and madoadoa meant spoiling that vote. Witness 376 disagreed, saying some people may have interpreted it that way, but to others such as the Kikuyu, it meant removing them from the Rift Valley. Faal also asked Witness 376 about the derogatory terms that the Kikuyu used when referring to the Kalenjin.
The witness was also questioned about whether he knew of any fighting in the Langas area that took place between the Luo and Kikuyu living there. Witness 376 said that he heard about it but he did not know the details. He told the court in response to questions from Faal that the Luo in the area were supporters of ODM. He also told the court that tensions rose in the area due to rumors that the election was being rigged in favor of Mwai Kibaki, who was seeking re-election as president in 2007, and ODM were angered by those rumors.
Faal asked whether he knew that no Kalenjin were killed on December 28 and 29, 2007 in the Langas area. The witness said he agreed but only because no Kalenjins lived in Kisumu Ndogo, the region where the Luo lived and where the clashes between them and the Kikuyu took place. When Faal asked him whether he knew that a number of Luos were killed, beheaded and their heads displayed on sticks in Langas, the witness said that he was not aware. He, however, said that he knew the chief of Langas had a meeting with the two warring groups of the Luo and Kikuyu.
Faal also took the witness through a list of the dead recorded at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital during the violence that followed the December 2007 poll. As the witness is testifying under protective measures in court and should not be identified to the public, Faal asked him to identify people he knew on the list by the number against their name. When Faal needed to get more details from the witness on a particular name, he asked to go into private session so as to avoid possibly revealing information that would make it easy to identify the witness to the public. About a third of the testimony of the witness on Friday was heard in private session for this reason.
Friday’s hearing started mid-morning, about an hour later than usual. Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the delay was caused by an urgent matter the judges had to attend to, but he did not elaborate. Witness 376 will continue being cross-examined by Faal on Monday.