Defense lawyer challenges expert witness on location of burnt structures

A defense lawyer questioned the location of structures destroyed that an expert witness identified in the ongoing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Essa Faal, Ruto’s lawyer, challenged Lars Bromley on whether all the structures he concluded had been burnt were destroyed in five locations around Eldoret town. Faal told Bromley on Thursday that some of the burnt structures he identified were outside the boundaries of the locations he stated they were in. Bromley said he worked using coordinates he was given by the Office of the Prosecutor, and he knew nothing about the boundaries of the locations in question.

The Office of the Prosecutor assigned Bromley to analyze satellite images and data from an instrument that detects large fires and map out where structures had been burned down in Eldoret, Huruma, Kiambaa, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi in January 2008. These locations are the subject of the charges against Ruto and Sang, who are on trial facing three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that broke out after the December 2007 presidential poll.

Bromley was asked to do the analysis of the satellite imagery and related data because he has 19 years of experience in the field. He presently works as Principal Analyst for a program of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research called Operational Satellite Applications Program, or UNOSAT.

As Faal took him through his analysis of Huruma, Kiambaa, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi, Bromley explained that he was given coordinates with the names of the five locations, but he did not limit his analysis to the coordinates alone. While explaining the information he gathered on Kimumu, Bromley said the coordinates he was given for Kimumu pointed to a fence. He said it would have been meaningless for him to just focus on the fence.

Bromley further elaborated that the minimum size of a satellite image he could buy was one that covered 25 square kilometres. He said the coordinates he was given would fall within such an area, but they would not be the sole thing visible on a satellite image.

Faal began by presenting Bromley with an extract from Google Maps of Kiambaa. He asked Bromley to compare this with Bromley’s own map of Kiambaa generated from his analysis. Faal zeroed in on two areas at the bottom of Bromley’s map of Kiambaa. He proposed to Bromley that these areas, which Faal identified as Cheplaskei and Kabongo, were not in Kiambaa. Faal said that Cheplaskei and Kabongo are Kalenjin villages. Bromley said he would not know about that. He said he would be surprised if there were actually administrative boundaries for the location known as Kiambaa.

Other witnesses who have testified earlier in this trial have identified Kiambaa as a location where the Kikuyu were the dominant ethnic group. Faal asked questions about Cheplaskei and Kabongo because Bromley had marked red dots in them. The red dots marked where structures had been burnt.

Faal asked Bromley similar questions about Huruma, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi, and each time Bromley said he did not know where the boundary of a particular location reached.

Faal concluded his cross-examination of Bromley by summarizing that comparing their (Ruto’s legal team) analysis of the boundaries of the five locations and Bromley’s mapping of burnt structures, 56 such structures were burned down in Kimumu, 48 in Yamumbi, 16 in Langas, and none in Huruma.

Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa, asked Bromley about his analysis of the time it would take to travel between different points in Kenya provided by the prosecution. Bromley analysed both road travel and air travel, specifically helicopter.

Kigen-Katwa asked Bromley that when he analysed the time it took to travel by helicopter whether he factored in the weather, wind conditions, the weight the aircraft was carrying, or the altitude it may travel at. Bromley said he did not, but his analysis covered the fastest possible time of travel and the slowest possible time of travel. He explained he based his analysis on the type of helicopters available in Kenya as indicated by a variety of companies. Bromley also said he took a similar approach when analyzing road travel, basing his work on what was likely to be the slowest and fastest vehicle in the Kenyan market.

Senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg re-examined Bromley for about half an hour, and then Bromley concluded his testimony. Bromley is the last witness to testify before the court takes its Easter recess next week.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said there will be a status conference Friday during which it is expected the prosecution and defense will make submissions on which witnesses will testify after the Easter recess. No date has been set for when the trial of Ruto and Sang will resume even though Eboe-Osuji had indicated in March that the judges were looking at tentatively resuming on April 28.

4 Comments

  1. Its quite funny that the settelite showed that their was fire in Cheplaskei village n yet it was a kalenjin village where their was no FIRE.

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  2. Cheplaskei is Kalenjin village i wonder the kind of evidence that woman has.let her leave us alone already we re a healed nation but all in all the icc judges are human and they wil deliver justice to both the accused and victims.kila mtu duniani ameona namna ushahidi wa kiongozi wa mashtaka uko void witnesses have come out saying they were bribed to testify against our leaders na ocampo kasema kaforciwa to make sure UHURUTO are taken to Hague ili Raila apate ticket ya uprezo lkn Wakenya tuliwashow. UHURUTO na Sang u will be set free by the white hyenas

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  3. Kenyans are tired of this cases that were skimmed to prevent the accused from participating in the 2013 elections. The ICC has directives from the godfathers (who pay them) not to shame the court by making sure that a conviction is given even when the witnesses confess to have lied for cash and the former prosecutor admitting that there was political hand in the cases. The world is watching and ICC credibility is being questioned.
    The earlier the court admits to have failed the better.

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