28 October 2013

Kenya: Ruto, Sang Query Payments to 'Fraudster' Witness

Photo: Benedikt von Loebel/WEF
President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted at the possibility of not attending his trial at the International Criminal Court (file photo).

Nairobi — The defence teams of Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have demanded the disclosure of the amount of money paid to the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) for the upkeep of witness P0268, insisting that he is a fraudster.

The lawyers want all the costs expended by the VWU for the purpose of relocating, maintaining and supporting the witness within the Witness Protection and Support Programme network made public.

They are also demanding for the disclosure of any evidence that would show that the witness is a hoax and has been giving false testimony because of the money received from the VWU programme.

Trial Chamber V(a) Judges however turned down the first request noting that it was the prerogative of the VWU to know how much money should be given to witnesses for their upkeep.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji added that the VWU made all efforts to ensure that such costs were reasonable and not in any way excessive.

"It is presumed that witness who come to testify will have to have sustenance in their lives whether it is afforded to them on their own or through the instrumentality of the VWU," explained the judge on Monday.

The defence teams had also demanded for the disclosure of any information that the ICC Prosecution could have and which may affect the credibility of the witness saying it must be revealed to the court.

The Office of the Prosecution as well as the VWU did not oppose the request for such information but they challenged the request surrounding monies allocated to the witness.

"The reason for opposing the request is that the VWU is an independent unit tasked with making independent judgments on what is appropriate in terms of costs to be expended on witnesses' sustenance," explained the judge.

After the ruling, the court brought the blinds down to welcome the witness but just before his questioning started, one of Ruto's lawyers David Hooper jumped in saying part of the witness's statement must be struck out.

"What Your Honour has here is a bundle that contains the witness's statement to the prosecution, the fundamental statement and it includes the exhibits and other items which in the normal course of events I do anticipate that my friend seeks to introduce," explained Hooper.

"May I say that in respect to one of those items there will be an objection in respect of its admissibility."

Witness P0268 had last week asked for his testimony to be conducted fully in-camera but the Trial Chamber turned down this request saying the protective measures, which have been granted to other witnesses, will be accorded to him as well.

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