2 September 2013

Kenya: Two More ICC Witnesses in Ruto Case Withdraw

Photo: Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto during Kenya's Labour Day celebrations.

KEY International Criminal Court prosecution witnesses against Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang have withdrawn from the case eight days before the two appear at the Hague.

A former NGO employee identified as witness K0336 and a former Kass FM employee have filed affidavits and other documents with the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor, Registry, Office of the Counsel for Defense and Office of the Counsel for Victims seeking to withdraw as witnesses in the case that is scheduled to begin on September 10.

Eldoret based lawyer Christopher Mitei of Arap Mitei and Company Advocates communicated their decision to the ICC in a letter dated August 30.

The first witness identifies himself as a male resident of Elgeyo Marakwet and former Kass FM employee until 2008 when he was sacked.

He believes he was fired at Sang's instigation.

The witness says in October 2012, he was approached by an ICC investigator identified as Paulo to be a witness because he worked for Kass FM between 2005 and 2008. He says he agreed to testify.

However, he says at the time he accepted to participate in the process, he was not in the mindset to make rational decisions because his mother had just died. He said he was in the process of divorcing his wife and had also been admitted to hospital.

The witness says the situation has changed because his father is distressed and has attempted to commit suicide because of his decision to be a witness while his siblings and children are opposed to his participation in the case.

"My father is distressed, sickly and is contemplating suicide. My siblings and children are extremely anxious. My continued participation in the process will cause continued mental anguish and adversely affect my family's well being. My participation has caused my family agony. I have looked at the tranquility currently prevailing in Kenya and I don't want to contribute to a situation which may disturb the peace that Kenyans are currently enjoying. I therefore swear this affidavit to confirm that I have withdrawn my testimony in its entirety and will not participate in the process any further," the witness says in a sworn affidavit dated August 8.

The second witness, K0336 from Uasin Gishu district, says he has chosen to withdraw as a witness because he is appalled by the inclusion in the case of an NGO and other individuals with political affiliations.

He says he helped identify witnesses during his work as a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights social worker who worked with IDPs and his statements were passed on to the ICC. The witness says he has since lost confidence in the court and has relocated from his hideout in a neighbouring country. He says he has asked his family to leave the safe-house allocated to them in Nairobi by the ICC.

"I, the above named (K0336) do hereby wish to withdraw from the above referred process, which was a voluntary one. I do not understand how and why Africog, Gladwell Otieno and other third parties are participants in a case I have been requested to testify in or in what capacity the prosecutor invited and or involved them in the case. I do not wish to be associated with the above individuals and I do not wish my name to be tarnished. I have seen and felt the agony and trauma that my immediate and extended family has been going through since they learnt that I was a witness in this case and wish to lift the burden from my back. I therefore swear this affidavit out of my own volition on this 29th day of August 2013 to confirm the reasons contained in my letter of withdrawal and in this affidavit," the witness says in an affidavit signed on Friday.

The witness names former Kenya National Commission of Human Rights Commissioner Hassan Omar Hassan, who is currently the Mombasa Senator, Ken Wafula of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and George Bett of the Anti Torture Campaign as some of the people who identified and assisted potential ICC witnesses to record statements.

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