Nairobi — Events at the International Criminal Court (ICC) took an interesting twist on Friday when it emerged that the ninth prosecution witness in Kenya Case I was a convicted felon.
During the session, it was revealed that Witness P0356 had been accused of four thefts in the past and was found guilty of two of them. He served two jail terms and faced three court charges in Kenya.
In one of those instances, the witness admitted to being jailed for two months in addition to telling the court that he spent his dirty money on liquor.
And just when it appeared that things could not get any worse for the witness, Deputy President William Ruto's lead lawyer Karim Khan accused him of attempting to swindle Sh54,000 from the ICC before getting caught dead in his tracks.
According to Khan, the witness purchased a receipt book and submitted fake receipts for a non-existent hotel to the court to get money from ICC to 'cover' his accommodation expenses.
Khan: Witness I don't want you to misunderstand me. You have tried to milk the ICC for money. Haven't you?
Witness: I have not done.
Khan: You presented bills from a hotel that you made up in your imagination. Didn't you, witness?
Witness: No, Your Honour.
He went on to explain that the hotel he was referring to ran out of business.
Khan: And you drew up these receipts relating to a hotel that simply did not exist. Isn't that the truth?
Witness: The hotel existed but it was closed.
Khan: That's an interesting perspective. You submitted receipts for a place that was not operating. Isn't that right?
Witness: Yes, Your Honour.
In one of those receipts, which he is also accused of forging, the witness is alleged to have made a claim worth Sh50,000 which was allegedly spent on an apartment in one day. But in a subsequent one, he claimed Sh4,000 for a similar expense.
When questioned about the handwriting on the receipts and whether or not it was his, the witness shifted blame saying that an official from the court aided him in writing the Sh50,000 one.
He also told the court that he was willing to disclose the name of the said official but only in private session.
Khan: The ICC refused to pay that money because they realised you were on a journey of dishonesty. Didn't they?
Witness: There was no day I have ever been in trouble with the court about the payment of where I am staying and I have never, ever, been given money for accommodation.
Khan: And you were panicking that your fraud would mean that you would be kicked out of the ICC protection programme and this gravy train that you have been riding would end. Isn't that true?
Witness: That is a great lie Your Honour.
The witness had earlier in the day made wrong descriptions of how Ruto's private homes in Eldoret and Sugoi looked like.
In one instance he said that one of the houses had white painted walls on the exterior. But this was not the case when a photo of that house was shown to the court indicating a brownish brick walled exterior.
He also said that he had been to Ruto's houses several times but was unable to get the number of rooms right. The witness had in his testimony told the prosecution that the house had about 15 to 20 rooms and he repeated this on the stand.
But when he was confronted with the house's pictures, he recanted these statements saying he 'messed up'.
Khan: You said it is about 15 to 20 rooms. I haven't counted. Do you remember saying that or do you maintain it is only 10 rooms now?
Witness: I remember saying that, Your Honour.
Khan: So what did you say a minute ago to 10 rooms? What happened? Did half of it collapse?
Witness: I remember that it is about 10 to 15 rooms.
Friday's sessions also saw a lot of lengthy private sessions.
However the Trial Chamber V(a) revealed that the trial against Ruto and Sang would run until January 31 before adjourning.
It will then reconvene on February 17, following the suspension of President Uhuru Kenyatta's trial and continue until March 11 with the possibility of 12 being a buffer date for any unfinished business.
The court will then reconvene on March 31 until April 16 when it will break for the Easter holiday.