16 October 2013

Kenya: Bodies Eaten By Pigs and Dogs - ICC Witness

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
A pregnant woman runs past burning shacks in Nairobi's Mathare slum during 2007 post-election violence (file photo).

BODIES of victims of post-election violence had been eaten by dogs and pigs, the third prosecution witness told the ICC yesterday.

Witness 189 gave her testimony as Deputy President William Ruto claimed that the prosecution had "miserably failed" in investigating the post-election violence.

"It is absolutely clear to us that the methodology of the prosecution to manipulate, buy and bribe witnesses in their bid to incriminate us in these allegations is appalling,"he said.

Ruto, charged with crimes against humanity with radio journalist Joshua Sang, was addressing a press conference at The Hague yesterday.

The witness said that that she saw 20 to 30 dead bodies in Kahuhia estate in Eldoret town in January 2008, adding that five or six had been eaten by dogs and pigs.

The witness also said that hospital wards were full after the clashes and that she saw many dead bodies across Eldoret.

"At Langas, there were bodies whose heads were chopped off. I saw human heads planted on sticks," the witness said.

She told the court that she found many Kikuyus taking refuge at the Kapsoya Catholic Church.

"In Kimumu after the clashes, 50 to 100 houses had been burnt. The majority of the houses belonged to the Kikuyu," Witness 189 said.

She added that rental property in Kimumu was not burnt but was ransacked with clothing, household items, foodstuffs and papers strewn all over.

Inside the courtroom, Ruto's lawyer Shyamala Alagendra and Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen challenged prosecution evidence presented to back up the witness' testimony.

Alagendra cross-examined the witness challenging her understanding of the events that preceded and followed the election.

She challenged the testimony that President Mwai Kibaki was sworn in at night showing a video to show that the swearing ceremony was before nightfall.

At his press conference, Ruto said he would continue with the trial in order to clear his name while Kenya awaits the UN Security Council response to the African Union request for deferral.

"It is becoming increasingly clear to us that the prosecution failed and failed miserably in the discharge of their responsibility to investigate the cases and allegations against us, especially to investigate both incriminatory and exculpatory evidence," Ruto said.

Ruto told journalists that it will not be necessary for the Security Council to defer the ICC trials if the Appeals Chamber upholds the decision allowing him to skip court sessions.

Ruto said that he and President Uhuru Kenyatta want the ICC to strike a balance. They want to clear their names but do not want to be always have to be present in court.

Ruto said that he and Uhuru need to be in Kenya because of the terror threats facing the country.

"There are threats of terrorism and activities of Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab especially in the context of the participation of Kenyan troops in Somalia," said Ruto.

The African Union on Saturday formally advised Uhuru and Ruto to stay away from The Hague until the ICC has advised whether it is willing to defer the trial of a sitting president.

On Monday President François Hollande said that France wanted a to find a way to ensure that Uhuru and Ruto can continue to govern Kenya while they stand trial before the ICC.

Hollande said that France could not accept any impunity and was committed to the ICC but a balance was needed between international justice and the right of states to be respected.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed that France wanted a solution that avoided impunity but also ensured Kenya "did not come to paralysis".

France seemed to be backing the request from Kenyatta and Ruto to the ICC to appear in court only at the start and finish of their cases, leaving them free in between to govern Kenya.

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