A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) Joshua arap Sang used to broadcast messages of peace and advocate for the Kalenjin to coexist with people from other ethnic groups, while also broadcasting messages inciting the Kalenjin against the Kikuyu.
Witness 800 said this while being cross-examined by Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa on Wednesday. Kigen-Katwa spent much of the day playing a selection of radio broadcasts featuring Sang and other radio presenters while asking the witness to confirm the nature of the broadcasts or whether he heard them before.
Sang was the star presenter of Kass FM, a radio station that broadcasts in the Kalenjin language. He is on trial on three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential poll. His co-accused is Deputy President William Samoei Ruto, who also faces three counts of crimes against humanity.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, it emerged that Witness 800 regularly listened to Kass FM between 2005 and 2012. Following on that, at one point Kigen-Katwa asked the witness whether he heard Sang explicitly ask the Kalenjin to coexist with other ethnic groups.
The witness said yes, but he went on to elaborate, saying he heard Sang call on the Kalenjin to live with others but also incite them against others.
“So the Sang of the right part that he was speaking clearly on air, would speak on coexistence, the need to stop the war and so forth. But when he turns to be the Sang of the idioms that has a hidden meaning then you will get a different message,” said Witness 800.
During the second session of Wednesday’s proceedings, Kigen-Katwa asked Witness 800 about a Kalenjin song called “Kimi beek kwenet,” which translates to mean “we are in the middle of the sea.” He questioned Witness 800 about it because the witness had told the prosecution in his statement that Sang frequently played this song on his show on Kass FM to incite Kalenjins against the Kikuyu.
Kigen-Katwa asked the witness whether in the song’s lyrics there was any mention of Kalenjins or Kikuyus. The witness said no. Kigen-Katwa asked the witness whether in the lyrics there is mention of Kenya or any other country. The witness said there isn’t. Kigen-Katwa asked whether in the song there was mention of HIV/AIDS. The witness said in the part of the song he knows there is no mention of it.
After several other questions along the same line, Kigen-Katwa then had portions of an 11-minute video of the song played. In the portions he played there was mention of other African countries, HIV/AIDS, and other things in Kalenjin. After each section of the song he played, Kigen-Katwa read out a translation of the lyrics, which the witness accepted is what the singer was singing about. (The song can be heard here.)
Kigen-Katwa asked the witness whether after listening to the song at length he still maintained he had listened to the song. The witness said yes. He said that on Kass FM the song was not played in full, and only parts of it were played.
“My testimony is about the hidden meaning and how that song was used at that time. I have no problem with your translation,” Witness 800 said.
Earlier, Witness 800 had explained that he understood the chorus of the song, “we are in the middle of the sea” to have a hidden meaning. He said the “we” referred to the Kalenjin and the song meant that the Kalenjin will remain in the middle of the sea unless they took the power that was at the other end of the sea. He said he understood the song to also be saying that the Kalenjin were being kept in the middle of the sea by non-Kalenjin groups.
At the end of the day’s proceedings, senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg reexamined the witness. He began by recalling that on several occasions during the cross-examination by Ruto’s lawyer, Shyamala Alagendra, it was suggested that the witness agreed to testify at the ICC to get money and benefits.
“Did you in fact make money from the ICC?” asked Steynberg.
“No,” Witness 800 replied.
Some of Steynberg’s other questions were asked in private session. When the court returned to open session, Steynberg asked the witness whether people called into Sang’s radio show using pseudonyms. The witness said that happened. He was asked to give examples. He gave one name, Tindinyo, which he said was Kalenjin for bad person. Steynberg concluded his reexamination by asking the witness to give his interpretation of a sentence in one of Sang’s broadcasts. Witness 800 then concluded his testimony and was discharged from court.
Witness 658 is scheduled to begin testifying on Thursday.