A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about a camp where retired military officers trained Kalenjin youths about a month before the December 2007 elections on how to set houses on fire and disguise themselves.
Witness 800 said on Tuesday the youths also spent time on target practice by learning how to shoot their arrows accurately by aiming at aluminium tins placed in trees about 10 to 15 meters away. He said this training went on for about three weeks and took place on in Boronjo in what was then Uasin Gishu district. He said the land where the training occurred was owned by an old man commonly known by his nickname, Mzuri. Witness 800 said this camp was between four to five kilometers away from the town of Ziwa.
The witness said that he got the information about the training from some of the young men who lived in the same area as he did, which is identified in open court as location nine. He said he talked to them when they returned from the training. The witness said they told him that most of them were paid between 250 and 500 shillings on completing the training. He said they also told him that those among them who were identified as leaders received 1,000 shillings. The witness said the young men believed that the money they were paid came from William Samoei Ruto.
In the lead up to the 2007 election, Ruto was seeking reelection as the member of parliament for the Eldoret North constituency. He was a key leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. Today, Ruto is Kenya’s deputy president. He is on trial at the ICC on three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that followed the 2007 presidential poll. Former journalist Joshua arap Sang is his co-accused, and he also faces three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the bloodshed that occurred between December 2007 and February 2008.
Witness 800 said the young men were taught how to place mattresses against the walls of wooden homes in order for the houses to catch fire quickly. He said the youths were also shown how to place the mattresses on the ceilings so the homes, in case the house was made of stone or brick, could still catch fire quickly.
The witness testified that the young men were also trained to dress in long shorts and smear their faces and legs with mud when attacking a place. He said they were told to make markings below their knees to enable them to easily identify each other during attacks.
Witness 800 discussed meetings he had been told about where Kalenjin elders stated the need to mobilize the Kalenjin to vote in large numbers. He said those elders also discussed what would happen if the party they supported, ODM, did not win the elections. He said the meetings he was told about took place about one month before voting day in December 2007.
The witness said the elders talked of how if the election was rigged, then the youth would be sent to attack Kikuyus and push them away from areas the Kalenjin also lived in. He testified the elders also said in such a scenario, the livestock on Kikuyu farms would be taken away, the trees on those farms cut down, as well as the fences.
He also told the chamber about a gathering Ruto addressed at the Eldoret police station where Ruto said the administration police would be used to rig the elections. Witness 800 said Ruto told the gathering in Kalenjin that they would do to them what they do to witches. The witness explained that he understood the “them” to refer to the Kikuyu. The Kalenjin words the witness said Ruto spoke to the gathering are, “Kiitoi che kiitoi bonik.”
Witness 800 will continue testifying on Wednesday.