A lawyer for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto accused a prosecution witness of colluding with another prosecution witness to make the same allegation against Ruto in his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Shyamala Alagendra spent most of the first session of Tuesday’s hearing asking Witness 800 about an Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party campaign rally that he and another prosecution witness had said took place on December 23, 2007.
Ruto is on trial for his alleged role in the bloodshed that followed the election that took place on December 27, 2007. He is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity. His co-accused is former journalist Joshua arap Sang, who also faces three counts of crimes against humanity.
When Witness 800 testified on November 18, he said he attended an ODM rally at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium in late December 2007, and at the event, Ruto made an inciting speech against the Kikuyu. However, the witness did not give any details.
Alagendra challenged him on this, saying that in his interview with the prosecution in September this year, he told them the rally took place at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret. She said this is the same allegation that another prosecution witness had made to the investigators. The other prosecution witness was only referred to as person number 13 in open session.
On September 19, another of Ruto’s lawyers, David Hooper, asked Witness 495 about his statement to the prosecution that there was an ODM rally at the Kipchoge Stadium on December 23, 2007. The witness had disowned his statement in court, and Hooper gave reasons why the defense agreed.
“Is it correct that this is a story that the two of you fabricated together and that is why you gave the same story?” Alagendra asked.
“You are wrong because this is a story I never discussed with person number 13,” the witness replied.
Alagendra then asked the witness whether he changed the date of the rally to December 19 or December 20 and the venue after he listened to the testimony of the other witness. He said that he did not listen to the testimony of the other witness.
She went on to ask the witness whether he knew that Ruto and other ODM leaders were campaigning in the western region of Kenya on December 23, 2007. He said he did not know about that, but he insisted that Ruto addressed a rally at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium on the same day.
The witness was then told the prosecution and defense have agreed that ODM held only two rallies at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium during the campaigns in the lead up to the December 2007 elections. Alagendra told the witness that the prosecution and defense had also agreed that those rallies took place on August 19 and November 10. Alagendra said that there were no other rallies held at the 64 Stadium and asked the witness what his response was to that.
“There was a rally that took place between the dates I have given because I remember it was in fact about a week before the elections, and to my recollection I think that should have been the last rally of ODM in Eldoret before the 2007 election,” Witness 800 insisted, referring to his earlier testimony that ODM held a rally at 64 Stadium on either December 19 or 20.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji also questioned the defense counsel and witness on the matter.
“Counsel, your proposition is that there were only two ODM rallies at the Eldoret 64 Stadium. Is that your proposition?” Judge Eboe-Osuji asked Alagendra.
“Indeed your honor,” she replied.
“Witness, do you agree with that?” asked the judge.
“I don’t know about the number of rallies that took place in that stadium in that particular year, but I know about the rally I have given testimony because that rally was about a week before elections,” responded Witness 800.
Alagendra then turned to the witness’s account of some Kalenjin youths, who received training on a farm in Boronjo on shooting arrows and setting houses on fire, among other things. Alagendra asked the witness whether it is true that he got that information from person number 13. He said yes. She asked him whether person number 13 got the information from someone else. He said yes.
The witness was then questioned about a May 2008 ceremony he testified about on November 19. He told the court the ceremony involved 3,000 young Kalenjin men being cleansed by elders in Nabkoi Forest for participating in attacks earlier that year. Alagendra asked him how come neither the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights nor the Waki Commission made any mention of the ceremony in their final reports. She noted that both commissions had investigators and officials spread across the country gathering information about the violence that occurred between December 2007 and February 2008. The witness said he did not know whether they received any information on the ceremony.
Alagendra told the witness that according to mobile phone data the defense had Farouk Kibet was in the coastal city of Mombasa at the time the witness said Kibet was at the cleansing ceremony. The witness said he was not aware of Kibet’s movements after the ceremony. Kibet is Ruto’s personal assistant and Witness 800 had alleged that Kibet had spoken on behalf of Ruto at the ceremony, thanking the men for what they had done and then distributed money as a token of appreciation.
“In fact, sir, Mr. Farouk Kibet did not set foot in that area, Burnt Forest or Nabkoi Forest any time during that period. Are you aware of that?” asked Alagendra.
“You’re wrong,” Witness 800 replied.
“And I put it to you, sir, the entire story about the ceremony at the Nabkoi Forest is false, and you’ve made it up yourself. What do you say to that, sir?” Alagendra asked.
“You’re wrong,” the witness responded.
The rest of the day’s proceedings were held in private session.
Witness 800 will continue testifying on Wednesday.