Witness 637 became the fifth prosecution witness in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang to appear with his own lawyer.
He began testifying on Monday via video link from an undisclosed location in Nairobi. The immediate previous three witnesses have given their testimony via video link from Nairobi as part of the conditions of their subpoena. Those witnesses – Witness 604, Witness 495, and Witness 516 – were among nine witnesses that Trial Chamber V(a) issued subpoenas for. Once they concluded their testimony they were discharged of their subpoena.
The prosecution had asked the court to issue orders for the witnesses to testify via video link after they ceased cooperating with the prosecution last year and mid this year. The prosecution said all nine witnesses were believed to be in Kenya. Witness 637 is not listed among those nine witnesses.
It is unclear why he is testifying via video link because the bulk of the preliminary discussions before Witness 637 began his testimony took place in private session. Like the immediate previous three witnesses, Witness 637 has a lawyer present. He shares the same lawyer with Witness 604. In January this year, Witness 356 became the first prosecution witness in trial of Ruto and Sang to have a lawyer present.
Ruto and Sang are on trial for their alleged roles in the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 presidential polls. They each face three counts of crimes against humanity.
Before the witness began his testimony, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji asked his lawyer, Gregory Mutai, whether he had advised his client about the ICC’s rule on self-incrimination, which is Rule 74 of the court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Mutai said he had. The judge also asked Mutai whether he had advised his client about the provisions of Articles 70 and 71 in the ICC’s fundamental law, the Rome Statute. Article 70 deals with perjury and witness interference. Article 71 deals with disrupting court proceedings. Mutai told the court he had advised his client about these articles.
It is unclear whether in the submissions made in private session the issue of the witness being protected from charges of corrupting a witness or witness interference came up. The immediate previous three witnesses had been given such guarantees by the chamber and the prosecution.
Witness 637 is giving his testimony under in-court protective measures, which include his being identified in open court by pseudonym. The measures also include using pseudonyms when referring to a person or place that may identify him. The pseudonyms are listed in a protected information sheet that the witness, judges, and lawyers have for easy reference. Also, in any transmission, the witness’ face and voice are distorted to protect him from identification in open court.
Trial lawyer Alice Zago asked the witness about the 2005 referendum campaign in Kenya on a draft constitution. She also asked the witness about a rally of the Orange Democratic Movement party he attended in December 2007. Most of the questions and answers to these and other issues were given in private session.
Witness 637 will continue testifying on Tuesday.