A witness briefly spoke about a ceremony in which William Samoei Ruto was made a Kalenjin elder. However, the rest of his testimony in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang was conducted in private session.
Witness 789 told the court on Wednesday about the ceremony that took place at Eldoret Sports Grounds. The witness went through some of the details about the ceremony in private session before the court returned to open session. In public, Witness 789 said leaders from across Kenya attended the ceremony, and there was a large crowd of people that he estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000.
The witness said Ruto was taken to a room where he received special blessings from Kalenjin elders and then returned to Eldoret Sports Grounds dressed in headgear and brandishing a shield. Witness 789 said he did not see Ruto receiving the special blessings but said he knew that is what happened because he is a Kalenjin and is familiar with the ethnic group’s customs and traditions.
After this description, the court went into private session. The rest of the day’s testimony was conducted this way.
Witness 789 began testifying on Monday, and he is giving his testimony via videolink. It appears Trial Chamber V(a) ordered greater in-court protective measures for the witness than has been the case with other witnesses. The prosecution had written to the court to ask he testify completely in private session.
Ordinarily the chamber grants witnesses under the court’s protection measures to prevent their identities being revealed to the public, such as distorting their image and voices when broadcast to the public and holding sections of their testimony in private session. However, the chamber has also tried to have as much of those witnesses’s testimony in public as possible in line with the accused’s right to a public trial.
Since the trial of Ruto and Sang began in September 2013, only two other witnesses have been heard almost completely in private session.
Witness 789 will continue testifying on Thursday.