Ruto team takes on Bensouda over evidence

DP Ruto’s defence lawyers poked holes at the prosecution evidence as they made their case for his acquittal.

Friday January 15 2016

By WALTER MENYA
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Deputy President William Ruto’s defence lawyers on Thursday poked holes at the prosecution evidence as they made their case for his acquittal.

In his characteristic fashion, Mr Ruto’s lead counsel, Mr Karim Khan, said the case had broken down.

“The prosecution vehicle cannot carry the weight. The chassis is broken and the wheels are off. The vehicle cannot move,” he told the trial judges.

He asked the three judges to make a determination that Mr Ruto has no case to answer and questioned whether the prosecution, led by Ms Fatou Bensouda, had proved that there was an organisation and a policy by alleged network members to cause mayhem after the 2007 election.

'ALLEGATIONS'

To date, he said, the prosecution was yet to prove that allegation.

“The prosecution is saying the show should go on, that please look at the quantity of the evidence not the quality,” he said.

“There are no answers to questions but the prosecution says the show should continue.”

(READ: Ruto’s team asks judges to throw out ICC charges)

He also rejected the prosecution’s argument that the credibility of the evidence should be tested after the suspects have been put to their defence.

On occasions, presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji cautioned Mr Khan against using demeaning words to describe the prosecution’s evidence.

“Mr Khan, there is no need for adjectives on the prosecution’s theory,” the judge said at one point.

Mr Ruto, who has been in The Hague since Tuesday, sat pensively as the case was going on.

He will be in court on Friday when the oral hearings end and is expected to leave for Nairobi on Saturday.

His co-accused, Mr Joshua Sang, was also in court.

NO CASE TO ANSWER MOTIONS

The oral hearings were called for the parties to reinforce the written submissions they have made in the no case to answer motions by the Ruto and Sang teams.

According to Mr Khan, testimonies by prosecution witnesses were uncorroborated and factually wrong.

He cited the case of a witness who testified under oath that former West Pokot MP Francis Lotodo was with Mr Ruto yet the MP died long before the violence broke out.

“Key witnesses have testified under oath that they told lies. Witness P-025 was withdrawn at the door of the court because he was found unreliable,” said Mr Khan.

Even though the credibility of the witnesses has been questioned, Mr Khan argued that the prosecution’s response to the motions had disregarded submissions by the defence.

“The prosecution’s organogram at the opening of this case makes a good story but has disintegrated,” he said.

According to him, the financial, military and political wings of the network have all disappeared in the course of the prosecution case, leaving just a skeleton of the initial alleged network members.

ALLEGED 'KINGPIN'

The lawyer also disputed that Mr Ruto was ordained the ‘king’ or ‘spokesman’ of the Kalenjin community, which is accused of mobilising individuals to cause mayhem.

According to Mr Khan, the prosecution had alleged that as a king and spokesman, Mr Ruto’s word demanded automatic compliance.

However, he said, the evidence so far produced had revealed the opposite.

“There are so many Kalenjins who contested against Mr Ruto. There is no evidence tabled to prove that they were threatened.

In some cases, some candidates that Mr Ruto endorsed lost,” he lawyer argued, as he sought to debunk the prosecution’s argument that Mr Ruto’s word was not questioned.

He cited cases of candidates from parties other than ODM who won elections in the Rift Valley in 2007.

Prof Margaret Kamar is one such case. In Eldama Ravine, Mr Khan said, Mr Moses Lessonet trounced former MP Musa Sirma in the ODM nominations despite the latter having been a close associate of Mr Ruto.

HESITANT SUPPORT

In addition, Mr Khan told the trial judges that Mr Ruto had been hesitant to support ODM leader Raila Odinga.

However, he was pushed into joining ODM by his community.

In other words, in contrast to the prosecution’s theory that Mr Ruto was the king and his edicts had to be followed, the reality was that it was the people leading Mr Ruto.

He also criticised the prosecution’s theory of the existence of a network.

The defence has maintained that there was no network as claimed by the prosecution and without a network, the case falls apart.

“The prosecution theory doesn’t stack up. The Assembly of State Parties has drafted a law that an organisation policy is needed.

“The only way Mr Ruto can be held liable is the presence of an organisation,” said Mr Khan.

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