Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Saturday led the country in welcoming the ICC Appeals Chamber's decision against the use of recanted testimony against Deputy President William Ruto and former journalist Joshua Sang.
In his statement, Mr Odinga said the decision was a vindication that ODM, to which Mr Ruto then was a leading member of the apex pentagon, did not plan any violence.
“Mr Odinga feels vindicated on two fronts as the case against Ruto and Sang gets weaker. His position is that ODM, to which Ruto belonged in 2007, did not plan any violence and that Ruto was put in the list by PNU opponents without any tangible evidence. Mr Odinga equally feels vindicated that his name has not featured anywhere as a person who coached or hired witnesses against Ruto and Uhuru, as the two claimed in 2013,” the former Prime Minister said through his spokesman Dennis Onyango.
The Appeals Chamber on Friday reversed the 2015 Trial Chamber decision that had admitted into evidence unsworn statements of five witnesses against Mr Ruto and Mr Sang.
The decision has been welcomed by the defence teams, which saw it as an indication that Mr Ruto would be set free in due course for lack of sufficient evidence.
A section of leaders also welcomed the decision and congratulated the ICC judges for standing for the rule of law.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said: “It’s confirmed that the case was never investigated from the beginning. Five witnesses recanted their statements and the Appeal Chamber rejected use of recanted statements. This means the case against Mr Ruto should not have been confirmed seven years ago. We are expecting nothing short of ‘no case to answer’ from the ICC judges.”
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki said the Jubilee coalition, to which Mr Ruto is a principal, was now looking forward to termination of the charges.
“That decision is the correct position in law. All our arguments have been upheld and we now hope that the ‘no case to answer motions’ will be judged expeditiously,” Prof Kindiki said.
Former nominated MP Mark Too, who has been adversely mentioned by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda as part of the alleged network that worked under Mr Ruto in planning and executing the violence, called for an investigation into the individuals who forwarded names to the ICC.
“At no time did I plan the violence,” said Mr Too, adding that ICC has been dwelling on rumours to build the two Kenyan cases. “As an international court, the ICC should launch intensive investigations instead of implicating innocent people,” he said.
Mr Too added: “In fact, I donated building materials and even provided transport for some IDPs, an indication that I’m a clean man,” he said.
Residents of Mr Ruto’s North Rift stronghold expressed optimism that the judges’ move would strengthen the defence case for acquittal.
“I applaud the decision of the ICC Appeals Chamber. The trial chamber misled itself on the basic principle of the law in finding that recanted evidence could be used in the case,” said Law Society of Kenya (LSK) North Rift region Chairman Zephaniah Yego.
According to Mr Yego, that key witnesses had changed their statements was a clear indication that there was no case from the start.
“We now expect that the duo will succeed in a motion of ‘no case to answer’. An argument was heard in January and Friday’s decision could have a bearing on it,” he said.
Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka praised the ruling, saying it was as a result of prayers by the DP’s supporters.
He said Kenyans would want the case to be over as the country had already undergone reconciliation.
Mr Ken Wafula of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy called on Kenyans to allow the court to carry out its mandate independently.
“We cannot decide for the court; it should be left to make decisions that are just and democratic,” he said during a phone interview.
Meanwhile, some victims who requested not to be named called for justice, saying the prosecution should push on until justice is done. “All that we want is justice, whether recanted evidence is dismissed.”