Witness tells court ODM supporters told Kikuyus they would return to Othaya

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) a councillor newly elected after the December 2007 elections told his supporters that because his party had won, Kikuyus living in an area called Kimumu would have to leave.

Witness 469 told the court on Thursday that Sammy Ruto, who had just won the Kimumu seat, was being driven in a convoy to celebrate his victory when he told his supporters about the eviction of the Kikuyu from the area. The witness said he said Kikuyus should return to Othaya, referring to the parliamentary seat that was held by then President Mwai Kibaki, who is also a Kikuyu.

The witness said Sammy Ruto is a Kalenjin and in 2008 he became the mayor of the Eldoret Municipality. She did not say whether Sammy Ruto is related to Deputy President William Samoei Ruto in whose trial she is testifying.

William Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang are each being tried at the ICC on three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that engulfed Kenya after the December 2007 election.

Witness 469 said one of the vehicles that formed Sammy Ruto’s celebratory convoy belonged to Micah Cheserem, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya who owns a flower farm in the Eldoret area. It is unclear whether she gave more details about the vehicle because a significant part of her testimony was done in private session, which is closed to the public.

Earlier Witness 469 told the court that during the campaign period supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement party also made reference to Othaya. She said Kalenjin residents of Kimumu supported ODM and they told the Kikuyu residents of Kimumu that irrespective of ODM’s success at the polls Kikuyus had to return to Othaya. Othaya is in what was at the time known as Central Province where the Kikuyu are the majority.

The witness told the court that during the campaigns one of the words the Kalenjin used to describe the Kikuyu was madoadoa, a Swahili that translates to mean “spots”. She explained that she understood this to mean that Kikuyus were everywhere and the Kalenjin intended to force them out of the Kimumu area.

“Did they say how the madoadoa should return to Othaya?” asked trial lawyer Lorenzo Pugliatti.

“The sign they gave us is the way they burnt our houses,” Witness 469 replied. “They burnt our houses and looted our property.”

For most of the day Witness 469 testified in private session so there is little detail on what else she spoke about.

Witness 469 will continue to testify on Friday.

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