Second prosecution witness describes how ODM came into being

The second prosecution witness in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang has begun testifying, describing how one of the main political parties in the lead up to the 2007 presidential election came to be formed.

Identified only as Prosecution Witness 326 in order to hide his real identity from the public, the witness is only visible to those present in the courtroom, which includes the judges, Ruto, Sang, court officials, and the different legal teams. A screen shields the witness from being seen in the public gallery, and his voice is distorted. In the court’s video stream, the witness’ face is also distorted to protect his identity.

Trial Chamber V(a) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to conceal the witness’ identity based on the September 20 recommendation of the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU). The trial chamber had asked the VWU to assess the security situation of the witness and recommend whether the witness needed any protective measures while testifying in public.

Witness 326 told the court on Monday how politicians from different parties came together to campaign against a draft constitution that was put to a referendum in November 2005. The witness described how that opposition to the draft constitution was named the Orange Movement, after the symbol on the ballot paper for the “No” vote, an orange. He told the court that from that campaign grew what became the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. This is the party that became the main challenger to the then president, Mwai Kibaki, in the 2007 election.

The witness narrated to the court how the group of politicians united against the draft constitution jostled for control of the party carrying the Orange name and how eventually they split to form two separate Orange political parties to contest the 2007 elections. He also told the court how Ruto became one of the key leaders of the ODM. Ruto is facing three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that shook Kenya after the December 2007 presidential poll. Sang is also facing three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in that violence.

Witness 326 began testifying on Monday after the first prosecution witness, known as Witness 536, finished her testimony on Friday. The first prosecution witness began giving her evidence in the same manner as Witness 326. However, after her first day of testimony unidentified individuals tried to expose her identity online, and the judges ordered that her remaining testimony be done in private session. Only the judges, different legal teams, and court officials were allowed to see her or hear her testimony.

Redacted transcripts of her testimony are available here.

 

 

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