Witness changes statement under cross-examination in Ruto and Sang trial

Witness 356 retracted, under cross-examination, a statement he made a day earlier that Deputy President William Samoei Ruto was declared the Kalenjin “king” during a meeting he saw on the news in 2007.

Witness 356 had stated that Ruto was declared Kalenjin king and spokesman in November 2007. This was one month before the General Election in which Ruto was seeking re-election as a National Assembly member from Eldoret North.

On Wednesday, Witness 356 said that a video he had been shown a day earlier of a meeting at Eldoret Sports Club was not the event during which Ruto was named the overall leader of the Kalenjin. He also said that the news item he saw of the event was not the one during which Ruto was declared king of the Kalenjin.

The witness changed the testimony he gave on Tuesday after defense lawyer Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa showed him that the video was filmed in mid-2006. Witness 356 said that there was another meeting at Eldoret Sports Club in which the declarations about Ruto being the Kalenjin king took place, but he could not remember when it occurred because he was not present at that meeting.

Kigen-Katwa played three recordings of radio programs that featured Joshua arap Sang and took the witness through the English translations to get his confirmation whether the translations correctly reflected what was said during the Kalenjin broadcasts. Sang, a former radio journalist, is a co-accused of Ruto and is represented by Kigen-Katwa. Sang hosted a popular morning show on the Kalenjin radio station, Kass FM.

Witness 356 confirmed the translations were accurate. Kigen-Katwa also asked Witness 356 whether the derogatory Kalenjin words he said on Tuesday were used against Kikuyus were also used in the broadcasts. The witness concurred. However, when Kigen-Katwa suggested to the witness that the words were not directed at the Kikuyu, the witness disagreed.

The witness also said that although in one of the recordings played in court on Wednesday Sang asked people “not to touch” or attack others, at the time the recording was made, there was no violence. The witness said that the broadcast in question took place weeks before voting in the December 2007 elections, and there was no violence then.

Kigen-Katwa was able to get the court to accept the recordings as defense exhibits. The judges made the ruling on the basis that though the witness could not authenticate the recordings, the witness did state that the recordings were similar to other broadcasts of Kass FM he had listened to at the time. The prosecution had objected to the audio recordings being admitted as evidence because their authenticity was not independently verified.

Witness 356 will continue testifying on Thursday.