Defense lawyer says Ruto did not attend two rallies; witness insists Ruto was present

Today at the International Criminal Court (ICC), a lawyer for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto told Witness 409 that Ruto never attended two rallies the witness claimed to have seen and heard Ruto speak at in the campaigns leading up to the 2007 elections.

Witness 409, however, insisted that he saw and heard Ruto speak at rallies at Nandi Hills stadium and Kapchorua.

Karim Khan, Ruto’s lead lawyer, told the witness that Ruto was campaigning in constituencies near Lake Victoria at the same time there was a big rally for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party at Nandi Hills stadium.

Khan showed Witness 409 a news clip about an ODM rally at Nandi Hills stadium, which was attended by some of the top leadership of the party including the party’s presidential candidate Raila Odinga. The news clip also had a related story, showing a separate series of ODM rallies in Rarieda and Ugenya constituencies, which are close to Lake Victoria.

After repeated questioning about whether he could identify Nandi Hills stadium in the video and three photos, Witness 409 said he recognized the stadium in the video but not the photos the defense showed him.

One of the reasons for the repeated questioning was that the Swahili translation being given to the witness was not always accurate. The lawyer for the victims, Wilfred Nderitu, interrupted Khan’s questions at one point to alert the judges to this. Khan then had to break his questions into smaller ones to allow for better translation. When the witness was being questioned about the venue of the rally he attended in Kapchorua, the Swahili word for field was used, but the interpreters translated it to stadium, which also led to him and Khan misunderstanding each other.

Khan showed the witness three photos and asked him whether he recognized the football field in Kapchorua. Witness 409 said two of the photos were of the field itself and its surroundings. He said he did not recognize the place in the third photo. Khan also presented in court a visitor’s book for the Kapchorua tea estate, which Khan said showed former cabinet minister Henry Kosgey had signed on December 20, 2007 and wrote the comments that he was there to campaign for Member of Parliament. Khan used this visitor’s book to challenge the witness that Ruto was not at the rally. However, the witness insisted that Ruto and Kosgey did address a rally at Kapchorua.

Earlier Khan had asked the witness to draw a sketch of what he remembers of the Kapchorua football field and the witness refused. Khan asked him why he did not want to draw the sketch, but before the witness answered the question, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji ordered that the court go into private session. The court returned to open session once that line of questioning concluded.

Witness 409 will continue testifying on Thursday.