Witness describes how Kalenjin-owned businesses in Kapsabet were not destroyed

A witness in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeing business premises and homes of Kikuyus destroyed in the western Kenya town of Kapsabet.

Witness 268 told judges of Trial Chamber V(a) on Tuesday that Kalenjin-owned business premises were spared from destruction because the Kalenjin word kitwek was marked on the walls of those premises. In open court the witness, who was testifying in English, did not explain what kitwek means in English. It is possible that in one of the private sessions held during the course of Tuesday’s hearing he explained the word’s meaning.

He told the court that some Kikuyu-owned business premises were also spared because their Kalenjin friends marked the word kitwek on those shops using either dark oil paints or permanent ink markers. Witness 268 said that he did not know the exact number of business premises and home destroyed in Kapsabet, but he knew they were many. In open court, he did not say when the Kikuyu-owned business premises and homes were destroyed.

Earlier in the day, the witness told the court about an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party rally he attended that was held on December 5, 2007 at the main stadium in Kapsabet town called Kipchoge Keino Stadium. He said that before he got there at 11 in the morning, there were scuffles between the supporters of two rival politicians who were vying for a parliamentary seat in the area.

Witness 268 said that one of the politicians, Elijah Lagat, had secured the nomination of the ODM for the Engwen parliamentary seat. One of the losers in that nomination, Alex Kosgey, then joined another political party. Witness 268 said the clash between the supporters of Lagat and Kosgey was because Lagat’s supporters did not think Kosgey or his supporters should be allowed to participate in the ODM rally of that day. The witness said that Alex Kosgey is a son of Henry Kosgey, who at the time was the chairman of the Orange Democratic Movement party. Henry Kosgey was a suspect together with Ruto and Sang, but in January 2012 pre-trial judges of the ICC declined to confirm the charges against him because of insufficient evidence.

The witness said the December 5, 2007 rally was well attended, estimating the crowd to be in the thousands. He said that the majority of people who attended the rally were Kalenjin, but there were Luos and Luhyas who attended. He said it was also covered widely by the media. He said Kass FM radio station, which broadcasts in Kalenjin, was covering the rally live.

In the afternoon, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji announced that the trial hearings will continue until November 8, instead of November 1 as had earlier been indicated. This announcement followed a request the prosecution had made for an extension to allow the two witnesses it had lined up complete their testimony before the trial of Ruto and Sang takes a break.