A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he lied about where he lived before and during the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 presidential poll because two men had promised him he would be relocated from Kenya and live a good life
The witness 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. The prosecution has sought to attack the credibility of the revised testimony, delivered via video link from Kenya, against a background of court concerns over witness tampering and intimidation.
Witness 516 said on Wednesday the two men had told him his children’s education would be paid for if he told prosecution investigators what they told him. On Tuesday when the issue of the two men came up, Witness 516 said they are not staff members of the Office of the Prosecutor. In open court, the individuals are only identified by the pseudonyms, person number one and number three. Using pseudonyms to refer to places and people that could identify the witness is one of the measures Trial Chamber V (a) has taken to protect Witness 516 when he is answering questions in open court.
The witness 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 took place between December 2007 and February 2008.
The issue of where the witness lived in late 2007 and early 2008 came up as senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg began taking Witness 516 through his statement paragraph by paragraph to determine what was true and what was false. The witness had said on Tuesday that parts of his statement were false.
Witness 516 said in the statement he gave to prosecution investigators in November 2012 that he and his family lived in a place only identified in open court as location one because it was information that could identify the witness. The witness, however, told the court he had lied about that and he and his family actually lived in a place identified as location three.
Steynberg spent about half an hour questioning Witness 516 on why it was necessary for him to lie about where he lived. The witness repeatedly said that this was something that he had discussed with persons number one and three when they met in October 2012 to talk about what he would tell prosecution investigators. He said in those discussions he was told that so long as he gave the information they talked about, he and his family would be relocated from Kenya, his children’s education paid for and he would live a good life.
“We were poor and unemployed people. I had no choice. That was an opportunity for me not to miss in order to benefit from all those promises,” said Witness 516 at one point.
Steynberg then asked the witness about which of the two locations, location one and location three, was closer to Turbo town centre. The witness said location three. He also agreed with Steynberg that location one was quite far away from Turbo town centre.
“When you gave your statement to the investigators and when you were having these discussions with persons one and three, were you aware that the relevant charge in this case relates to Turbo town? Did you know that?” asked Steynberg.
“Yes,” answered the witness.
Steynberg then asked about a sketch the witness drew for prosecution investigators. Witness 516 said that there are details in the sketch that were true and others that were false. Further questions and answers on the sketch were done in private session because the sketch included details that could identify the witness.
Later in the day the witness told the court that though in his statement he talked about three meetings that were held in Ruto’s home, he did not attend those meetings himself. He told the court he heard about the meetings from someone who was not named in open court. Steynberg asked the witness whether the details he gave in the statement about Ruto addressing one of the meetings for half an hour were correct. He said that was not correct because he did not attend the meeting.
“What was your purpose of telling investigators about what was said at this meeting?” asked Steynberg.
“My aim was to get the benefits that I had talked about earlier,” Witness 516 replied.
Witness 516 also said that details of a meeting that took place at the home of Ruto’s assistant, Farouk Kibet, were given to him by person number three. He accepted that in his statement to prosecution investigators he gave details about the meeting but he told the court he did not attend that meeting.
Throughout the course of the day, parts of the hearing were held in private session. Witness 516 will continue testifying on Thursday.