Joshua arap Sang warned Kalenjin youths in parts of Uasin Gishu district to retreat from road blocks or the attacks they were carrying out because the police had been deployed and would fire live bullets at them, a witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Witness 658 said on Tuesday that he heard Sang give this warning on Kass FM, the Kalenjin language radio station Sang worked for. The witness said he heard this warning between January 1 and January 3, 2008. He said some of the places Sang named were Silas, which is the Eldoret area, and Cheptiret. Witness 658 said Sang told his listeners that sources, whom he did not name, gave him the information about the plans of the police.
Sang is on trial at the ICC on three counts of crimes against humanity. He and Deputy President William Samoei Ruto are being tried for their alleged roles in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential elections. Ruto also faces three counts of crimes against humanity.
On Tuesday, Witness 658 said he saw a woman, whom he estimated to be about 40 years old, stopped at a road block in Kapseret on January 1, 2008. Kapseret is on the outskirts of Eldoret town. The witness said this woman could not run past the road block because she was pregnant. He said she gave birth to a boy by the road side soon after she was stopped.
The witness said the Kalenjin youths manning the road block said, “We don’t want any other Mungiki.” This was in reference to the criminal gang made of mainly Kikuyu men. Witness 658 testified that after saying this, the youths killed the infant and the mother with machetes.
Witness 658 also talked about a demonstration in Kapsabet he participated in on January 3, 2008. Trial lawyer Lucio Garcia played clips of a video from what the witness identified as the demonstration he took part in. The witness said the chants heard in the clips played in court were a song sang during circumcision ceremonies. He said when it is sung outside circumcision ceremonies, it is used to whip up emotions.
He also said a man, who in another clip was seen addressing the demonstrators, was calling on them to chase the Kikuyu away. He said the man spoke in Nandi, the language of one of the sub-groups of the Kalenjin. He spelled out part of what the man said as kikion kimariok kotoch kanyi nyeri, which he translated to mean “chase Kikuyu to go up home Nyeri.” The reference to Nyeri is the home area of then President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, who had won the disputed December 2007 presidential poll. He translated another part of what the man in the video said, but the explanation was given in the afternoon session, which was held entirely in private session.
At the start of Tuesday’s proceedings, Ruto’s lead lawyer, Karim Khan, applied to the court for his client to be excused from attending the hearing on Wednesday. Khan said that Ruto was required in Kenya following an attack earlier in the day on quarry workers in Mandera County, which resulted in 30 deaths. The Somali extremist Islamic group, al-Shabab, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The judges of Trial Chamber V(a) consulted briefly, and then Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said Ruto was excused from being in court on Wednesday.
On Monday, Witness 658 narrated what he observed at a fundraising event that was held at Ziwa Sirikwa market on December 31, 2007. He told the court the two notable guests were Fred Kapondi, who had just won election as the member of parliament for Mount Elgon, and a prominent farmer in Uasin Gishu, Jackson Kibor. The witness said the emcee was someone called Isaac Maiyo.
Witness 658 said Kibor told those gathered that the Kikuyus had stolen their votes. The witness said Kibor told them that he is an old man and does not want to do anything, but he will help in contributing where necessary to help youth acquire things. The witness said Kibor did not elaborate what he meant by “things.”
He said Kapondi also spoke. According to the witness, Kapondi told the gathering that the people from this side, that is Uasin Gishu, should remove the Kikuyus, and he will help remove the Luhyas from Trans Nzoia district. Trans Nzoia borders Uasin Gishu. The witness said Kapondi also said Kikuyus had messed up the country, and he and Kibor will go and bring things. The witness told the court that Kapondi did not elaborate what he meant by “things.”
Witness 658 said those gathered contributed money, with Kapondi receiving and announcing the donations made as the chief guest. The witness said Kibor presented Kapondi with an envelope and said it was 200,000 shillings from Ruto, who had been expected to the guest of honor. The witness said Kibor contributed 20,000 shillings, and Kapondi gave 10,000 shillings. He said the final tally was not announced.
The witness told the court that on his way back to Eldoret he saw three pick-up trucks with young men in the back armed with bows and arrows. He said the trucks were going in the direction of Eldoret town. He said he also saw a tractor with armed men in it. The witness said he was not sure whether it was going to Eldoret town, but it was headed in that direction.
When he got to Eldoret town, he said he saw at least four lorries packed with people parked in different parts of the town. He said the people in the lorries were Kikuyus who had fled their farms.
Witness 658 will continue testifying on Wednesday.