15 May 2014

Kenya: ICC Prosecution Withdraws 'Unreliable' Witness

Nairobi — The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecution on Thursday applied to adjourn the trial against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang to June, due to lack of witnesses.

The prosecution informed the court that it had withdrawn witness P0025 as it doubted the credibility of his evidence.

"I regret to inform the chamber, parties and participants that following the preparation session with witness P0025 held on 14 May, the prosecution has decided to withdraw him as a prosecution witness. I apologise to the chamber and parties for the inconvenience occasioned by the late withdrawal of this witness," Anton Steynberg for the prosecution said.

He explained to the court that the witness could not accurately and consistently recall critical parts of his evidence during examination hence the decision to drop him.

According to the prosecutor, the witness also submitted his evidence based on hearsay of other witnesses who had already testified before the court in the case against Ruto and Sang.

"During the course of the witness preparation session, it became clear to counsel that the witness is unable to accurately recall, or give a coherent and consistent account of, critical parts of the evidence the prosecution had intended to lead from this witness," Steynberg explained.

However, Ruto's lawyer Karim Khan opposed the request of the prosecution saying the witness should still take the stand since his evidence cuts across other witnesses who received financial benefits through him.

"Many witnesses have all come through the hands of P0025 after having received benefits or having been paid from P0025, P0315, P0028, P0019, P0016, P0026, P0163 and P0336," Khan complained.

Both Ruto's and Sang's defence teams questioned why the prosecution took many years to verify the evidence of witness P0025.

They regretted that they had invested time and resources to prepare their defence in relation to the evidence of the witness who the prosecution decided to withdraw on Thursday.

He said it was a 'miscarriage of justice' on the part of the prosecution who he accused of failing in its investigations.

Khan requested the prosecution to furnish the defence teams with video recordings and other communication materials between the ICC and the witness who he alleged was coached and promised financial benefits.

In his justification for the request, he cited an incident in which he alleged witness P0268 presented a business plan to the prosecution after giving his evidence-in-chief during trial and being cross-examined by the defence.

He expressed concerns that P0025 could have also been motivated by financial benefits for him to have been in the witness list for so many years only for the prosecution to drop him at the trial stage.

The Thursday request to postpone the trial against Ruto and Sang came few days after the prosecution suffered another delay in presentation of witnesses.

The trial which was supposed to resume on Monday resumed on Wednesday when the prosecution managed to get a witness to take stand.

The witness who was giving evidence entirely in closed door session completed her/his testimony on Thursday morning.

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