Witness 495 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he never made a statement to the prosecution about events before and after the December 2007 presidential poll in Kenya.
The witness said on Wednesday that when he met with staff of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in November 2012 he was given two statements and was asked to copy the contents in his own hand to show he is the one who made the statement.
Witness 495 is testifying in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang. Ruto and Sang each face three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential election.
In response to questions from trial lawyer Lucio Garcia, Witness 495 initially told the court that he met with the prosecution staff over two days and it was on the second day he handwrote and signed his statement. Upon further questioning Witness 495 said he spent three days with the prosecution staff but he signed the statement on the second day.
Garcia continued with that line of questioning and told the witness that the information he had is that the interview took place between November 8 and November 11, 2012.
“If you signed the statement on the second day, that would have been on the 9th of November. Here you signed on the 11th. Can you explain that?” asked Garcia.
Before the witness could answer a lawyer for Ruto, David Hooper, objected saying the witness was at a disadvantage because he did not have a hard copy of his statement in front him. Witness 495 is testifying via video link from an undisclosed location in Nairobi and court officers are calling up a page of a document at a time on a computer monitor for the witness to see. If Witness 495 had been testifying at the ICC premises at The Hague he would have been given a paper copy of his complete statement to the prosecution to consult while he testified. This has been the case with previous witnesses who gave their testimony at The Hague.
After Hooper’s objection, the court went into private session and so the witness’ response was not broadcast publicly. At another point when Hooper raised the issue again, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said the prosecution were treating the witness fairly. However, he later ordered that the witness and his lawyer James Njoroge Njuguna be given again the statement to review over the lunch break. Usually, the Victims and Witnesses Unit give a witness their statement to read just before they testify in court.
Witness 495 also told the court about a woman who was identified in court only as person number two. The witness said this woman talked to him in person in August 2012 and told him that he would be receiving a call from investigators of the OTP. According to the witness she told him he will be given a statement to sign. Witness 495, however, said that she did not discuss the contents of the statement.
He said he next met her a few days before he went to meet the members of the OTP. Witness 495 then said he called her on the second day of his meeting with the prosecution staff. He said he wanted to confirm to her that he had been given the statement and wanted to know whether he should sign it. The witness said she told him to sign it and he would receive what he had been promised.
“From what I understand you needed her to give the okay or the greenlight so to speak?” asked Garcia.
“Yes, your honour,” replied Witness 495.
“Why is that?” Garcia continued.
“Because in the previous time when we were talking I was not sure what she was saying was true or false,” the witness responded.
Garcia took the witness through portions of his statement, paragraph by paragraph, and in some cases sentence by sentence. Garcia told the court the statement was 17 pages. He asked Witness 495 to confirm whether it was his initials on each page. The witness confirmed it was his initials on each page. He also asked the witness to confirm his signature at the end of the statement and the acknowledgement that the statement was true as far as he could recollect. The witness confirmed his signature.
The portions Garcia went over with the witness included background information on the witness. They also included descriptions of a December 23, 2007 rally at Eldoret’s Kipchoge Stadium and a December 23, 2007 meeting or gathering at Ruto’s house in Sugoi. Other portions Garcia went over with the witness were descriptions of training of youths in the use of bows and arrows and how those who left the training were searched for.
With each paragraph or sentence Garcia asked Witness 495 whether the information in that paragraph or sentence was information he had provided to the OTP. The witness said some of the background information about himself he provided to the prosecution and other parts of it he did not. As for the other portions, the witness denied giving the information to the OTP. When asked whether the information was true or false, he either said it was false or he did not know.
When the witness was asked about whether he participated in meetings or witnessed events between December 26, 2007 and December 30, 2007 as described in his statement, the witness responded that he was at home the whole time and he did not know about any of those meetings or events.
“So you stayed in your house from the 26th December to the 30th December?” asked Garcia.
“Yes, your honour,” replied Witness 495.
“Mr. Witness, did you not state that you went to vote on the 27th December?” Garcia asked.
The witness said he did vote and then returned home.
After the lunch break Garcia revisited the issue, asking the witness whether he voted at the polling station he named in his statement on December 27, 2007.
“I went to the station to vote but I never provided the information to the OTP,” responded Witness 495.
“Do you have any idea Mr. Witness on how the OTP would have known that information?” Garcia continued.
“I don’t know your honour,” the witness replied.
Garcia then showed the witness each page of his handwritten statement and each time asked him to confirm whether it was his handwriting on the particular page. The witness confirmed each time. Garcia then asked him about information on a particular page and the court went into private session. The day’s proceedings ended in private session.
Witness 495 will continue testifying on Thursday.