20 July 2013

Kenya: Ruto - ICC Witnesses Are 'Cooking' Evidence

Photo: Uhuru Kenyatta/Facebook
Deputy President William Ruto during the inauguration ceremony.

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto now claims that he has strong evidence to show that local and international non governmental organisations have hatched a scheme to fabricate evidence against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ruto has now applied to the Trial Chamber V to force the Prosecutor put eight witnesses, whom he accuses of being coached to lie against him on the witness stand immediately after the opening statement at the onset of the trial.

He wants the witnesses called to testify first so that the Trial Chamber can determine their validity and chart a proper way forward so as to prevent what he calls 'a miscarriage of justice'.

The Deputy President also wants the Prosecution's lead investigator put on the witness stand, as the ninth witness, for overseeing the selection process of the eight witnesses.

"This scheme links all eight witnesses. It has been years in the making and has been, or still is, supported by various international and domestic Kenyan organisations," he alleged.

In an application dated July 19, the Deputy President added that the witnesses were part of a scheme to cook evidence against him saying they must testify first so that the alleged scam can be unmasked at the earliest opportunity.

"To use a Kenyan colloquialism, based on witness statements and documents, the Defence has substantial grounds to believe that these eight key prosecution witnesses have been part of a deliberate and concerted scheme to "cook" evidence against Mr. Ruto," argued Ruto's lawyers.

Ruto's defense lawyers also argued that the trial was likely to take a lot of time and that it would therefore be necessary to test the core of the case from the onset.

The Deputy President further observed that it would be unfair to wait for a minimum of 160 hours as prosecution witnesses testify before even one defense principal witness is heard.

"The Prosecution case is scheduled to take approximately 726 hours, which, if the Court sits for five hours per day, amounts to 145.2 days. Accordingly, the Defence submits the core of the Prosecution case should be tested at the outset of trial particularly when the Defence has sound reasons to believe that this core is rotten," urged Ruto.

Several witnesses have dropped out in the first case, where Ruto and former journalist Joshua Sang are co-accused, and case II against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The most recent drop out was once again in Kenyatta's case where the Prosecution has so far lost a total of 25 out of 30 key witnesses.

"The prosecution hereby notifies the chamber of the withdrawal of three witnesses from its list of witnesses to be relied on at trial," asserted the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in an earlier notification to the Trial Chamber.

Ruto and Sang trial is due to open on September 10 at the Hague while that of Kenyatta is expected to kick off on November 12.

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