Witness 604 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) it is possible William Samoei Ruto was consulted on a fundraising event that the witness had previously testified did not take place.
Senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg asked Witness 604 about this on Tuesday after he revisited minutes of a board of governors meeting held to discuss a fundraising event at a school in a place only known by its pseudonym, location D. Steynberg asked the question as part of his rebuttal to the questions Ruto’s lawyer, Essa Faal, had put to Witness 604.
The minutes Steynberg referred to were dated September 21, 2007. Witness 604 had said in his statement to the prosecution Ruto presided over a fundraising event in location D on November 19, 2007. Faal asserted on Wednesday last week that Ruto attended a fundraising event in location D in July 2007, and there was no other fundraising event in that location for the rest of the year. After questioning from Faal, the witness said his account of the event was false.
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 Tuesday, Steynberg also took Witness 604 through an official log of activities a school principal is required to keep. Steynberg asked the witness about entries made in the log of the school in location D made between November 2006 and January 2007 and between November 2007 and January 2008. Steynberg asked him whether the lack of entries between early November and early January of the following year coincided with the school’s Christmas break. Witness 604 said yes.
Earlier Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa, asked Witness 604 about another prosecution witness whom Witness 604 had said recruited him to testify before the ICC. Kigen-Katwa asked him whether he knew the reason the other prosecution witness, a woman, initiated contact with him. He said he did not know.
Sang’s lawyer then asked him whether he thought the woman was trusted by the prosecution. Witness 604 said he thought so. He was then asked what made him think so, but his answer to that question was given in private session. Kigen-Katwa also asked him whether the other prosecution witness had asked him to do something he was not willing to. Witness 604 said yes. Kigen-Katwa asked what, but the witness’s answer was given in private session.
When Kigen-Katwa finished his questions, it was Steynberg’s turn to ask rebuttal questions. When Steynberg concluded his rebuttal questions, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji asked whether Ruto’s or Sang’s lawyers had any further questions for the witness. Not one of them did.
Judge Eboe-Osuji then asked Steynberg whether the prosecution wished to continue having Witness 604 on subpoena. Steynberg said no. The judge then informed Witness 604 that his testimony in court had concluded, and the court was allowing him to leave as well as discharging the subpoena he was under.
Next in line to testify was Witness 495. He is at an undisclosed location in Nairobi with his lawyer where the court has been receiving the testimony of Witness 604 via video link. Both witnesses are part of a group of nine prosecution witnesses the court has ordered be compelled to testify after they stopped communicating with the prosecution or recanted their statements to the prosecution.
Witness 495, like Witness 604, is represented by a lawyer though they do not share the same lawyer. On Tuesday afternoon, Witness 495’s lawyer, James Njoroge Njuguna, was first called into court alone so the court could deal with preliminary matters before the witness began his testimony. Judge Eboe-Osuji confirmed that Njuguna had been provisionally admitted to the list of lawyers allowed to appear before the court. The judge then asked Njuguna whether he had informed his client about the ICC’s rules on perjury and self-incrimination. Njuguna confirmed he had done so. Trial Chamber V(a) then asked for submissions on the prosecution’s application for Witness 495 to receive in-court protective measures. Those submissions were made in private session.
The judges then retreated to consider the submissions. They returned after some minutes and said they had decided that whenever Witness 495 may incriminate himself in his testimony, such a session would be conducted in private or closed session. Judge Eboe-Osuji said that the prosecution had informed the court that they do not anticipate Witness 495 incriminating himself, but the judges made the decision in case the issue arose. The judge also said Trial Chamber V(a) had approved the prosecution’s decision not to pursue any possible charges against the witness either directly or indirectly for any possible offense under the ICC Rome Statute provision against corrupting witnesses or interfering with witnesses. This is Article 70(1)(c). The chamber said this does not protect the witness from any charges of perjury, if the situation arose. The chamber also said the transcript of the witness’s testimony would be under seal and cautioned all parties present during Witness 495’s testimony, including court staff, against any breaches of the court’s confidentiality rules.
Judge Eboe-Osuji said the chamber’s second decision was to grant Witness 495 in-court protective measures. This includes his voice and image being distorted in any broadcast of the court proceedings whether through the audio system in the public gallery or in the court’s live stream.
Once he was sworn in and taken through the basics of the conduct of proceedings, Witness 495 testified for the rest of the afternoon. Most of his testimony was in private session.
Witness 495 will continue testifying on Wednesday.