Witness 727 Has Been in Hiding, Says His Lawyer

Today, the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was held in private session.

The hearing lasted about one and a half hours before Trial Chamber V(a) adjourned the proceedings for the day. It is unclear what transpired in Thursday’s hearing because it was held entirely in private session. Even the routine of the different legal teams stating for the record their presence in court was not seen by the public.

This week Witness 727 was scheduled to be testifying via video link before the trial chamber after judges ordered him to do so last month. As of Wednesday, he had not testified. It is possible he did so during Thursday’s proceeding.

According to a Dutch lawyer who represents him, Witness 727 has been in hiding. Michiel Pestman told the Netherlands National News Agency, known by its Dutch acronym ANP, that his client went into hiding because he fears testifying before the ICC.

In a story ANP published on Tuesday, Pestman said Witness 727 and his family have been granted asylum in the Netherlands. The lawyer said a Dutch court had ordered his client to testify before the ICC as per the order of Trial Chamber V(a). Pestman told the news agency that his client went into hiding after the Dutch court threatened to jail him if he failed to appear before the ICC.

“The investigative judge must indeed ensure the safety of the witness,” Pestman told ANP. “Now he and his family are being put at risk by forcing him to talk. That really is unacceptable.”

The ANP story does not indicate on what date the Dutch court issued the order to Witness 727 or when it is the judge issued the threat to jail the witness if he continued to decline to testify.

In its February 17 decision, Trial Chamber V(a) had ordered the Registry of the ICC to transmit to the relevant authorities its summons for Witness 727 to testify before the chamber via video link. In that decision, the chamber gave the Registry until March 6 to update it on the progress in implementing the chamber’s decision, so it is likely the Dutch judicial system became involved in the matter of Witness 727 between February 17 and March 6.

On Tuesday, Prakken d’Oliveira, a firm of human rights lawyers where Pestman works, said in a statement that Witness 727 and his family have “received serious threats due to a potentially incriminating statement that the witness could make against Mr. Ruto,” before the ICC. The statement said the witness feared for his life, and this is why he did not wish to testify.

In its February 17 decision, the trial chamber noted that Witness 727 had been relocated specifically because of his security concerns. The chamber also noted that despite being relocated the witness set three conditions for testifying before it. These conditions were he testifies entirely in camera, his national lawyer is present during his testimony, and he should not be asked to reveal privileged communication in court.

Marina van Riel, a resident fellow with the Open Society Justice Initiative, translated into English from Dutch the ANP story referred to in this article.

13 Comments

  1. People should be free to tell the world the truth that they claim to know.Unless of course they are peddling lies in which case the confidence component which accompanies truth is absent.Therefore people need money to talk lies,and since the precedence had been set long before at the inception of these cases ,it is not for us to tell them to pay them, they got to do what they got to do,it is their witness,it is up to them .The rotten underbelly is eating away the credibility of the prosecution.

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  2. If indeed the witness was threatened with imprisonment, naturally he will say what pleases those who “convinced” him to record the statement they are going to use in the hearing. For heaven’s sake, let justice be SEEN TO BE DONE. Not forced.

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  3. It is so surprising to forcer a volunteering witness to appear against his will and expect justice to the accused. The Dutch court has made life very difficult to the witness and his family. Please east west home is best come home and enjoy our mother land

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  4. testifieng or not is somebodies will to do so,none can be forced to say something ad instead of jail threat lets the otp find other option.

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  5. i thought the witness was relocated for purposes of testifying, then what happened again.This whole thing is a charade.

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  6. There must be something cook.The case died in infancy and someone is trying to exhume.Let this lying witness expose prosecution’s filthy investigations.

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  7. I can now agree with Ocampo.
    Kenya will not only be an example but a case study for law students.

    Theory: Forced testimony yields results, whichever standpoint you take. Now start collecting data, starting from The Hague. The witness isn’t willing to talk.

    So like one of a pair of oxen harnessed to plough the witness goes aground and refuses to pull.

    Bite on its tail hard enough to make it oblige, but still it wouldn’t. Tired and frustrated, what would be the next course of action for the oxen ploughers?

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  8. We sincerely ask our 2 brothers to stay put since everyone knows what happened during post election violence. Politicizing the cases will not take us anywhere. Violences were spontaneous and those who rigged elections and beneficiaries are the one accountable. God bless Kenya

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  9. most of the evidence that prosecution relied on is ear says. prosecution will terribly fail for not doing his homework well

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  10. This case has no legal documents to accused deputy president and sang because evidents doesn’t even seems to exist in the culture the violence started on its own nobody politicaly was masterminding so the judges are not doing their work because the evidents alleged seems all are lies so why waste time on something which will never exist

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