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Ruto awaiting ICC nod on witnesses

Tuesday August 2 2011

Eldoret North MP William Ruto (left, back row), Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey (centre, back row) and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang (right, back row) during their hearing on April 7, 2011 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.

Photo/AFP/FILE Eldoret North MP William Ruto (left, back row), Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey (centre, back row) and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang (right, back row) during their hearing on April 7, 2011 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.  

By BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected] AND OLIVER MATHENGE [email protected]

Lawyers for Mr William Ruto, Mr Henry Kosgey and Mr Joshua Sang are waiting for permission from the International Criminal Court to contact the six witnesses they have lined up for their trial.

They also have two weeks to submit their evidence to the Pre-Trial Chamber and the prosecutor.

These are some of the crucial steps in the countdown to the confirmation of charges against Mr Ruto, Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang on September 1.

On Tuesday, lawyer Katwa Kigen, who represents Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, said he was ready with witnesses and evidence to counter the charges against his clients.

“We have witnesses but we are waiting for the authority from the ICC in order to talk to them. You require the go-ahead from the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) of the ICC to call on any witnesses,” he said.

Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, the head of the Pre-Trial Chamber, restricted the trio to two witnesses each. They had proposed to call 43 witnesses, but the prosecution opposed the request.

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The VWU, which is part of the ICC Registry, is among other things tasked to advise the prosecutor on victim and witness status. It can deny defence lawyers access to a witnesses if it believes giving evidence would put their lives at risk.

Speaking a day after ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo released additional evidence claiming the killings in the Rift Valley were executed with military precision, Mr Katwa said they would submit two sets of evidence on August 10 and August 16.

“There is physical evidence, which includes venues or buildings which we will submit on August 10. The rest of the evidence, which includes newspaper cuttings, video clips and statements from witnesses, will be submitted on August 16,” he said.

The evidence challenges Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s dossier on dates and venues of meetings, and the commanders and perpetrators who are said to have worked under Mr Ruto and Mr Kosgey to plan, finance and execute the violence in which 1,133 people were killed.

“We will challenge the evidence of the venues and dates by showing where our clients were on those specific dates. We will also have to counter-check the identity of the commanders as alleged by Ocampo,” he said.

He said the team did not have access to the evidence the prosecutor submitted to the Pre-Trial Chamber under a seal of confidence.

“Unfortunately, we will not have access until the hearing. This is because the ICC says that witnesses, victims and their families are likely to suffer if information is disclosed,” he said.

Mr Ruto, Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang re accused of having organised, coordinated and financed the eviction of persons allied to PNU in Rift Valley have also told the judges that they do not need to black out any parts of their witness statements.