Witness Says Before 2005 Referendum, Ruto Asked Kalenjins in Burnt Forest to be Ready to Evict Kikuyus

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that ahead of a referendum on a draft constitution in 2005, William Samoei Ruto asked Kalenjins of Burnt Forest to prepare to evict Kikuyus from the area.

Ruto made this call at a function in Burnt Forest involving a Kalenjin football club and a Kikuyu football club on October 1, 2005, said Witness 658. He said Ruto spoke at length and spoke in Nandi, the language of one of the sub-groups of the Kalenjin. Burnt Forest is a town to the south of Eldoret.

The witness said Ruto told those at the function: “The Kalenjin to do what they had done before.” He explained that Ruto was referring to violence in the area that preceded the 1992 elections in which some Kikuyus were evicted from where they lived. The witness said the place the Kikuyu lived was called Rironi, but after they were evicted the name was changed to a Kalenjin one, Kaplilech. He said in 2005 there were still Kikuyus living in Burnt Forest town and some of the surrounding areas.

Ruto, who is currently Kenya’s deputy president, is on trial at the ICC with former journalist Joshua arap Sang. Both of them face three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 election.

During his testimony on what he observed at the football function in Burnt Forest, the witness said that the area chief stood to speak. However, when he began addressing the people in Swahili, he was stopped by a member of parliament, David Koros, said the witness. He said Koros told the chief that they, meaning the Kalenjin, needed to talk among themselves.

Later in the day, the witness told the court that between February and April 2008, members of parliament went on air on Kass FM calling for the release of Kalenjin youths who had been arrested for their suspected involvement in the violence months earlier. He said he saw Ruto on television making similar demands at a rally in Kisumu. He said the demands were for the release of all youths irrespective of whether they had been involved in any of the violence between December 2007 and February 2008.

Witness 658 also said that Sang, who was a star presenter on Kass FM, controlled what was said on his morning show by giving more air time to particular callers or supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. ODM was the main party challenging incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and his Party of National Unity in the December 2007 elections.

The witness said some of the regular callers to Sang’s program were someone known as “Chief Whip” and another known as “Councillor High Rise.” The witness said that some of these callers delivered particular messages to the grassroots because they were given a lot time to speak as they contributed to topical issues.

Earlier in the day, the witness was also questioned about some of the speeches at the funeral of Lucas Sang, a former 1988 Olympics sprinter. Lucas Sang was killed in January 2008. Witness 658 said some of the speakers lauded the former athlete as someone who had fought for the Kalenjins. The witness was also asked more questions about the Kapsabet demonstration he spoke about on Tuesday.

The defense began cross-examining him in the afternoon.

Witness 658 will continue testifying on Thursday.

8 Comments

  1. am waitng 4 defence, since i can see a logic here, how can one be everywea or he is mobile, i mean kaps, eld, ziwa etc.

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  2. If there was tention or incitment in Burnt Forest in 2005 as aduced by witness 658 the football match between the Kalenjin F C and the Kikuyu F C could not have taken place at all. the witness is trying to justify the alleged pre-prepared violence

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  3. This witness testimonies does not add up he is today at ziwa,in 2005 at Burnt Forest watching football,at times in Kapsabet attending a demonstration,in Eldoret police station inspecting Mololine vehicle at Brookside Dairies doing all sorts of things which are irrelevant and seems to only to please those who coached him to tell the world impossibilities.

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  4. it is absurd and unbelievable that this witness was mobile and at every event or function. he/she should be put to task by the defence to explain his /herintention of being everywhere and who was catering for his/her transport.lets wait and see.

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  5. Quite brave I must say. Ruto inciting people & football club teams of different ethnic groups on the same ground, in front of Government officers, namely the provincial administration-read Chief; and walks away as if nothing has happened. Even worse to date.
    The witness seems to see Ruto everywhere even if he doesn’t remember the exact words used is some of the incidents. Really?

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  6. I am a Kalenjin. Sang presented in “Leen ne Emet”(What is the country/world/people saying”?)It is difficult to translate Kalenjin language. It is open to multiple interpretations. That is the problem of the witnesses…”Chief whip” is a perennial caller in Kalenjin radio stations. He calls for close to half an hour, and he speaks of practically every issue..In all stations…

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  7. This is then simple. Since the court accepts incriminating as well as exornorating evidence, why can’t the chief, having been mentioned be called to court to corroborate what has been said.

    If the chief is not available I am sure his assistant is there to give the picture of the occasion. The court should not beat about the bush on this.

    Similarly all those who have been mentioned one way or the other should immediately seek to redeem themselves in this court. For that is the only way they will ever hope to salvage their character.
    The witness seems to take it that the court attendees including viewers, listeners and the judges can not grasp how a function is conducted.

    How can a football fuction veer off its agenda to talk on side issues, worst of all plan to evict players invited for a friendly encounter within the very function?.

    In perspective, 2 teams are playing. The conveners appear to rail on one of the teams. Will the proceedings continue. Just as nightfall follows daylight, fracas would surely ensure.

    So how does the witness inexplicably brace himself up to present such shenanigans before a court of repute?

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