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Fatou Bensouda files 64 pages of updated William Ruto charges

Monday September 9 2013

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.  

BERNARD NAMUNANE
By BERNARD NAMUNANE
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Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Monday produced 64 pages of accusations against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Ms Bensouda, who is leading the team of International Criminal Court prosecutors, filed updated charges against the Deputy President and his co-accused.

She accuses Mr Ruto of enlisting political collaborators, former military friends, elders and media allies to commit crimes against humanity.

Both Mr Ruto and Mr Sang have denied the charges, and are at The Hague in readiness for the case this morning.

The prosecutor is also no longer accusing Mr Ruto of being a direct perpetrator, and now says he is indirectly responsible for crimes committed during the 2007/8 post-election period.

In the document titled “Updated Prosecution’s Pre-Trial Brief”, Ms Bensouda argues that the ethnic factor in political parties during election campaigns, the historical injustices allegedly meted out on the Kalenjin community since independence and the high level of unemployment in the vast areas were the underlying factors to the violence in Uasin Gishu and neighbouring Nandi counties.

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Ms Bensouda says that Mr Ruto, together with Mr Sang, took advantage of these existing factors and crafted a network which he used to unleash violence on members of the Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii communities in Rift Valley after former President Kibaki was declared the winner in the December 2007 elections.

“The prosecution alleges that the accused William Samoei Ruto and Joshua arap Sang intentionally exploited to their own advantage these deep-seated political, ethnic, social and economic issues during the 2007 electoral campaign.”

She claims that the intention was to acquire political power through violence if ODM’s Raila Odinga lost the elections to PNU’s Kibaki.

Mr Ruto is described as the most important politician in Rift Valley at the time — akin to the legendary Nandi anti-colonial hero Koitalel arap Samoei.

Mr Sang is portrayed as a mouth piece in the ilk of a village crier of old through his widely listened to show Leen Ne Emet on Kass FM.

The ICC prosecutor draws heavily from the political and ethnic composition of the 2007 elections which had been spiced by the 2005 referendum on the Draft Constitution. Mr Ruto was on the Orange side led by Mr Odinga.

“Prior to the elections, Ruto began organising tribal, military, media, financial and political leaders (the Network) with the purpose of forcibly expelling PNU supporters from the Rift Valley, in particular the Kikuyu, Kamba and Kisii population,” she says.

Together with the Network, the prosecution charges that they planned, financed, provided weapons, transportation and other logistical needs for the evictions of the unwanted communities. The Kikuyu, she said, were referred to as “weeds”.

Ms Bensouda says Mr Ruto recruited former ministers Franklin Bett, Henry Kosgey, Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi, businessman Jackson Kibor, his Constituency Development Fund chairman Isaac Maiyo and his aide Farouk Kibet as the political wing of the Network.

The military command was led by Retired Generals John Koech (North Rift), Augustine Cheruiyot (South Rift) and former General Service Unit commander Samson Cherambos (Central Rift), who recruited fighters in their districts to attack the target groups.

“Reporting to these military commanders were “Divisional Commanders”, who were responsible for commanding fighters in districts where there was a high concentration of the Kikuyu. They were largely former members of the armed forces and police,” she says.

Among the fighters were Ishmael Choge (Kapsabet Town and areas), Jacob Kata (Nandi Hills Town and area) and a Major Cheruwon (Meteitei and Timboroa).

Kass FM Radio, where Mr Sang worked, was the platform where the message of Kalenjin unity was preached, meetings mobilised, PNU supporters castigated and the youths prepared for attacks.

“Kass FM, and in particular Sang’s show Lee Ne Emet was utilised to disseminate the plan, and to mobilise and coordinate perpetrators during the attacks,” the prosecution states.

Ms Bensouda alleges that the financiers of the network were Karim Busienei, a certain arap Maina, Mr Lemunyu, who is the Deputy President’s father-in-law, politician Mark Too and the EMO Foundation. The funds were used to buy weapons, petrol and to pay fighters and individuals involved in the attacks.

Mr Kapondi was alleged to have provided most of the weapons while others like grenades were bought from Uganda and Sudan.

The Deputy President is accused of holding more than 12 meetings at his Sugoi home to plan the attacks, supply the weapons and pay the youths to carry out the attacks. Similar meetings were held at the homes of Mr Too, Mr Cherambos and then DC Mberia.