A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he made false allegations against William Samoei Ruto because of the money he received from different offices of the ICC.
Witness 604 is one of a group of nine people the court has ordered to testify under subpoena, at the request of the prosecution, after they disavowed earlier statements supporting the prosecution case.
Witness 604 said on Monday the money he received paid for his accommodation, communication, school fees, daily living expenses, and other costs. The witness said this as Ruto’s lawyer, Essa Faal, questioned him. Faal said that based on disclosures made to the Ruto defense team, Witness 604 had been given the equivalent of USD 11,406 between December 2013 and April 2014. Faal told the court the disclosures showed some of the money was paid by the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) of the court and some of it by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).
“Were you surprised at the amount of money that you were being paid?” Faal asked.
“Yes,” replied Witness 604.
“It is these amounts of money that you describe as fantastic, wonderful and made you lie against Mr Ruto?” questioned Faal.
“Yes,” the witness answered.
Ruto is on trial at the ICC on three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role during the bloodshed that followed Kenya’s December 2007 general elections. At the time, Ruto was seeking reelection as a member of parliament, and he was also a key leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. Today, he is Kenya’s deputy president. On trial with Ruto is former journalist Joshua arap Sang, who is also facing three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that occurred between December 2007 and February 2008.
On Monday, Faal also asked the witness about a women’s meeting he had said took place at Ruto’s home on December 26, 2007. Faal challenged Witness 604 that the meeting could not have taken place because December 26, 2007 was the day before Kenyans voted in the general elections, and by law politicians are barred from holding political meetings two days before voting day. The witness accepted that was true.
Faal also asked the witness about five Kalenjin politicians who Ruto backed in the 2007 and 2013 elections. Witness 604 said he was not aware whether Ruto supported all of them. He agreed, however, that four of them failed to secure nominations for the elective post they wanted to contest despite being members of the party Ruto was a key leader of.
The politicians Faal named were Isaac Maiyo and Julius Bitok, who failed to secure the nomination of the United Republican Party (URP) for elective posts they wanted to contest in the 2013 elections. Others Faal named were David Koros, Musa Sirma, and Joseph Lagat who failed to secure the ODM nomination in the 2007 elections. Ruto was a key leader of the ODM in 2007 and then ahead of the 2013 elections he switched parties and became the leader of URP.
“When you told the prosecution that the Kalenjin would support the person Mr. Ruto told them to support, you were lying to the prosecution, weren’t you?” asked Faal.
“Yes,” replied Witness 604.
Faal finished questioning the witness just before the court’s lunch break. Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa then began questioning Witness 604. Kigen-Katwa spent most of the remainder of the day asking the witness about his statement that Sang had alleged on radio before voting day in 2007 that a lorry was carrying fake ballots that would be used in rigging the election. Kigen-Katwa said the witness made this statement to back his allegation that Sang used his show on the Kalenjin language station, Kass FM, to incite listeners against Kikuyus and the party ODM was challenging, the Party of National Unity (PNU).
Kigen-Katwa showed Witness 604 a front page story of The Standard from December 26, 2007 that alleged buses belonging to two private transport companies carrying hundreds of administration policemen had gone to different destinations in the country. The story claimed other administration policemen had marked fake ballot papers in two locations in Nairobi, and those ballots were also being transported to different parts of the country. Kigen-Katwa then asked the witness whether from the newspaper article it was clear that the information Sang broadcast was already public knowledge. The witness agreed.
Sang’s lawyer then played a radio clip of an interview Sang did with ODM’s leader, Raila Odinga, in which Odinga made similar allegations. The interview was conducted in Kiswahili, Kenya’s other national language. Kigen-Katwa played a separate radio clip in which Sang and a colleague of his called Tarus referred to a statement the ODM had released in which the party made similar allegations. In the clip Kigen-Katwa played, Tarus reads out the number plates of the buses that ODM claimed had ferried the policemen and fake ballot papers.
With each radio clip, Kigen-Katwa asked the witness to listen to it and summarize what he heard. Kigen-Katwa then read out the relevant portion of the transcript of the clip. He then asked the witness to confirm whether that was what he heard. The witness confirmed it was so. Then he would ask the witness questions about what was said on air.
“Could you confirm that Tarus said that this is what ODM presidential candidate says but they [Kass FM] have not confirmed?” asked Kigen-Katwa.
“Yes,” replied the witness.
Witness 604 will continue testifying on Tuesday. Witness 495 is next in line to testify and may start on Tuesday after Witness 604 concludes his testimony.