Ruto defense challenges witness about his account of violence in Nandi Hills

One of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto’s defense lawyers challenged a witness that he was not in Nandi Hills town days after the December 2007 elections, so his account of what happened there was false.

After asking Witness 128 several questions about whether he saw a police officer shot with an arrow and killed, David Hooper suggested on Friday that the witness was in Western Province at the time and not Nandi Hills as he had earlier testified.

Hooper made the suggestion after showing the witness a photo of a man Hooper said is called George Odhiambo, who was the head of the Nandi Hills police station in December 2007 and January 2008. Hooper said during his second day of cross-examination that Odhiambo was not injured or killed in January 2008 as Witness 128 had said. Hooper showed the witness another photo of Odhiambo, which he said was taken this year and showed Odhiambo was alive.

Hooper said that the head of the police division in the Nandi District at the time was alive today, and no senior police officer was injured or killed in Nandi Hills in January 2008 as the witness claimed. In Kenya, a police division is formed from a cluster of police stations.

“I suggest you never were at Nandi Hills. You were far, far away at Western Province. What do you say to that?” Hooper asked.

“No, your honor,” Witness 128 responded.

Later in the day, Hooper asserted that records of the witness’ mobile phone showed that he made calls only from Western Province between December 25, 2007 and January 4, 2008, and not in Nandi Hills as the witness had said he was present during the early days of January. The witness answered the question in private session, so his answer is not known to the public. Before August 2010 Kenya was divided into eight provinces. Nandi Hills at the time was in Rift Valley Province, which neighbored Western Province.

Hooper later asked the witness about a rally he attended at Kobujoi. Hooper said that the rally was held on December 16 and Raila Odinga, the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party and its presidential candidate, was the main speaker and not Ruto as the witness had earlier testified.

Witness 128 said he does not remember.

Hooper also said that a former senior police officer the witness had testified organized the Kobujoi rally, Samson Charamboss, was actually in charge of security for Sally Kosgei, a parliamentary aspirant in the 2007 election and a former head of public service. Witness 128 said he did not know about that. On Wednesday, the witness had testified that Charamboss organized the rally at Kobujoi.

During re-examination, trial lawyer Regina Weiss for the prosecution asked Witness 128 whether in 2007 a mobile phone service user was required to register with their provider. The witness said no. Weiss asked him when the government made it compulsory for subscribers to register with their mobile phone service provider. He said last year. The rest of the re-examination took place in private session.

Earlier in the day, Hooper made an oral application to the court to order the prosecution provide the defense with the video tape of the preparation for testimony last week of the witness. Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji later said the judges declined to grant Hooper’s application. Judge Eboe-Osuji said that the judges felt that the notes of the preparation the prosecution gave the defense as well as the clarification given in court by Weiss “satisfied the purposes of the defense.”

Witness 128 concluded his testimony on Friday. The court adjourned until February 17 when the trial of Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang will resume.