Ruto lawyer asks witness about USAID’s funding of human rights groups

Today, the lawyer representing Deputy President William Sameoi Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) asked a witness whether he knew about money the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) gave Kenyan human rights organizations and what it was used for.

Karim Khan also asked Witness 356 on Monday whether he knew a former ambassador of the United States to Kenya traveled to the North Rift region in order to convince people not to support Ruto. Khan then asked the witness about money he received from the ICC’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) and whether it influenced his testimony before the court.

On the issue of USAID and human rights organizations based in the North Rift region, the witness said he was not aware of the funding USAID gave to organizations that Khan named. Witness 356 also said that he was not aware that the money was intended to influence individuals to testify against Ruto. Most of the questioning on this matter was done in private session, so other details that may have emerged are not available to the public.

Witness 356 said he was not aware that Michael Ranneberger, who served as the US ambassador during the period before and after the post-election violence of 2008, had traveled in the North Rift area asking people to withdraw their support for Ruto. In open session Khan did not pursue this line of questioning further, but it is possible other details emerged in private session.

Over a period of six months, Witness 356 received about 20,000 dollars from the VWU, Khan said in open court, referring to official documents. Khan asked the witness whether this money motivated him to testify at the ICC. The witness denied this. Khan asked him more questions in private session, the details of which are not open to the public.

Khan also began asking the witness about whether he has an alcohol problem, but prosecutor Lucio Garcia objected, questioning the relevance of the questions to show whether the witness was credible. The judges allowed Khan to proceed with the questioning but cautioned him to show the relevance quickly.

Khan asked Witness 356 whether he regularly drank beer and got drunk. The witness denied he got drunk. Khan then asked to continue questioning the witness in private session.

Witness 356 will continue to testify on Tuesday.