A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he met two men who told him what to say when prosecution staff contacted him to testify in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The witness is the third former prosecution witness 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 Tuesday that one of the men, whom he identified by his pseudonym, ‘person number three’, had the most to say about what to tell prosecution investigators. Witness 516 said he did not know person number three before they met in Eldoret sometime in October 2012.
The witness said the other man, who he identified by his pseudonym, ‘person number one’, is the one he knew before the October 2012 meeting. He said person number one knew person number three and he was the one who introduced person number three to him. The witness said their meeting lasted three hours.
Ruto and Sang are on trial at the ICC for their alleged roles during the violence that shook Kenya after the December 2007 presidential poll. They each face three counts of crimes against humanity.
During Tuesday’s hearing Witness 516 referred to the two men using pseudonyms because naming them publicly could identify him. The witness is testifying under in-court protective measures that include his being identified in public by his pseudonym, Witness 516. Other measures include him, the judges of Trial Chamber V (a) and the lawyers using pseudonyms when referring to people and places that could identify the witness when the hearing is in public session. Those pseudonyms are contained in a protected information sheet that all concerned are provided with to refer to. Also the witness’ voice is distorted so that those in the public gallery cannot hear his real voice. The same applies to the streaming of the court’s proceedings online, in which the witness’ face is also distorted.
Witness 516 said during the October 2012 meeting he was told to tell prosecution investigators he attended meetings in which attacks were planned. He said persons number one and three gave him details such as the dates and attendees of such meetings to give to the investigators.
Earlier in the day, senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg asked Witness 516 whether he had attended any public meeting at which Ruto spoke before the 2007 elections. He said he had not. Steynberg asked him whether he attended any private meeting at which Ruto spoke before the 2007 elections. The witness said he had not. He told the court that Ruto was the Kalenjin leader at the time but the witness said he did not know when Ruto attained that position.
Steynberg also asked the witness about Farouk Kibet. Witness 516 said he knew how Kibet looked. When he was asked whether he had ever attended a meeting where Kibet spoke, Witness 516 said had not. He also said he did not know the relationship between Kibet and Ruto.
In June, Witness 613 told the court (http://www.ijmonitor.org/2014/06/witness-describes-some-of-the-work-done-by-rutos-assistant/) Kibet was Ruto’s assistant in 2007 and he usually accompanied Ruto wherever he went. The witness also said Kibet represented Ruto at meetings he was unable to attend in person.
On Tuesday, when Witness 516 was asked about violence in the area of Turbo, which is in present-day Uasin Gishu County, he said he sought refuge with his children at the police post. The witness, however, told the court he did not know who torched houses that he could see burning in the distances. He also said he did not know why Kikuyus in the Turbo area had fled to the police post.
Part of what Witness 516 told the court on Tuesday was heard in private session. He is testifying via video link from an undisclosed location in Nairobi. The witness is testifying under summons Trial Chamber V (a) issued after he stopped cooperating with the prosecution last year.
Witness 516 will continue testifying on Wednesday.