A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Joshua arap Sang used his show on Kass FM to campaign for William Samoei Ruto to become the leader of the Kalenjin ethnic group.
On Monday, Witness 743 said Sang described Ruto on air as “a true leader” and select callers phoned in their comments on the idea of Ruto becoming the Kalenjin leader. Witness 743 began testifying in the trial of Ruto and Sang after Witness 789 concluded his testimony on Friday in private session.
Ruto and Sang have each been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity. The charges are based on their alleged roles in the violence that erupted after the December 2007 presidential poll. Ruto at the time was a key leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement party and seeking reelection as a member of parliament. He is now Kenya’s deputy president. At the time Sang was a popular talk show host on the Kalenjin language radio station, Kass FM. He has since left Kass FM.
Witness 743 is testifying via video link from an undisclosed location in Nairobi. He told the court he listened to a show during which Ruto was interviewed by Sang and also responded to questions from listeners. Witness 743 said he called in with a question, and he remembered two callers who seemed to have been prepared to phone in their comments. When senior trial lawyer Anton Steynberg asked him how he knew this, the witness said when he called him he was asked to identify himself, but when the two callers phoned in, Sang already known them by name.
He said the two callers were Kip Tindinyo and Councillor. He said Kip Tindinyo meant woman rapist in Kipsigis, the language and name of one of the sub-groups of the Kalenjin. Sang’s lawyer, Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa, told the court that they were ready to concede Kip Tindinyo was a regular caller to Sang’s morning talk show. Witness 800, who testified in November last year, also told the court of a regular caller to Kass FM who was called Tindinyo. The spellings given then and now are different, but it is likely he is the same person.
The witness also told the court about a fundraising event he attended in October 2007 at which Ruto spoke. He said it took place at a school, but he did not name the school because it could identify him to the public. Witness 743 said Ruto spoke in Nandi and told those gathered that they should drive out the Kikuyu from the Rift Valley region. Nandi is the language and name of another sub-group of the Kalenjin. The day’s proceedings ended before Steynberg could explore follow-up questions on the matter with the witness.
Witness 743 is testifying under court-ordered protective measures to conceal his identify from the public. These measures include identifying him by pseudonym and distorting his image and voice in any transmission of the proceedings. They also include using a protected information sheet with pseudonyms for places and people whose names could identify him. Another measure is the court going into private session when it is necessary for the witness and lawyers to uses names of places and people that would identify him. This happened during Monday’s proceedings.
Just before the proceedings ended, Karim Khan, Ruto’s lead lawyer, asked the court to excuse Ruto from court on Thursday and Friday. Ruto is required to attend the first five days of the court’s hearings whenever the trial resumes after a recess. He was excused from court last week but was required to be present this week.
Khan said President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta had been scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum that is due to start on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. He said the Kenyan government had decided that Ruto would go instead. Steynberg said the prosecution had no objection to Ruto being away on Thursday and Friday so long as he was in court next Monday and Tuesday. The representative for victims, Orchlon Narantsegtseg, said he had no objection. Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said Trial Chamber V(a) would rule on the application tomorrow.
Witness 743 will continue to testify on Tuesday.