A defense lawyer and a witness accused the other of lying during the on-going trial at the International Criminal Court of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
David Hooper, who represents Ruto, was continuing his cross-examination of Witness 442 on Friday when he and the witness disagreed. At some points Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji had to intervene to guide the witness, reminding her that she should simply answer yes or no to questions and not anticipate what Hooper’s intentions were.
Hooper asked the witness a series of questions about whether she saw Elijah Lagat in Kapsabet on December 31, 2007 and January 3, 2008 as she had said in earlier testimony. Witness 442 said she had. Hooper then put it to her that Lagat, a former Boston Marathon winner who had just won a parliamentary seat, was in Nairobi at the time and she could not have seen him in Kapsabet. This is one of the points where Eboe-Osuji intervened, because the witness began her answer by asking Hooper who it was then, on December 31, 2007, who was celebrating their victory in Kapsabet.
“What the lawyer has done is he is telling you his own position. This is where you tell him whether you agree with it,” Eboe-Osuji told the witness.
“Do you agree with Hooper when he tells you that, or do you disagree with Hooper?” the judge asked the witness.
“It is a lie. It is a complete lie because he (Lagat) is the one who lead the demonstrations,” Witness 442 replied.
Later in the day, Hooper challenged the witness’ account of her escape from her home to the Eldoret showground via the Kapsabet police station. He told her that it was her children who were at Kapsabet police station after a neighbor hid them from attackers and then took them there where they were reunited with a brother of the witness.
“At no time were you ever there,” Hooper said. “You’ve come here and you’ve lied about your story.”
Before the witness could answer, Eboe-Osuji reminded her that she does not have to argue with Hooper because she had already answered a number of his questions in private session.
“What’s your response to that (the question)?”
“No,” Witness 442 said in response to Hooper’s assertion that she was lying.
Earlier Hooper told the witness that her mobile phone records showed that she was in Trans-Nzoia area in early January 2008 and not Kapsabet as she had told the court. Witness 442 denied this.
Hooper also questioned her account of the demonstration she said took place on January 3, 2008 and ended at a rally at the Kipchoge stadium. He told the witness that it was a demonstration for peace, which is why the people were carrying leaves as a symbol of peace. She disagreed. She also disputed the film clips that Hooper showed of that demonstration, saying that they did not show the group of demonstrators who went to the Kapsabet police station, to demand the police to let go of the people who had sought refuge there so they can kill them.
When the day’s proceedings began, Eboe-Osuji notified Ruto’s lawyers that Trial Chamber V (a) would be requiring him to be in court for the whole time witness 28 will be testifying. The witness is scheduled to appear in court after the Easter recess. The judge, however, said the court would be taking submissions on the issue on Monday.
Witness 442 will continue testifying on Monday.