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Ruto trial resumes amid fresh claims of witness interference

Sunday January 11 2015

Deputy President William Ruto during an interview at his Eldoret home on December 24, 2014. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

Deputy President William Ruto during an interview at his Eldoret home on December 24, 2014. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NATION REPORTER
By NATION REPORTER
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The trial of Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court resumes on Monday after the Christmas break.

It will be proceeding against the background of the prosecution’s revelation that it had identified a network of individuals responsible for intimidating witnesses.

Mr Ruto is not expected to attend Monday’s hearing but Mr Sang is likely to be in court.

Before the court went on recess last December, witnesses who had recanted their testimonies were forced to give evidence from a secret location in Nairobi.

On Friday, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office had unearthed a network it accused of bribing prosecution witnesses to recant their testimonies.

She made the claims in a statement released by her office as authorities investigated the death of Mr Meshack Yebei who was found dead in Eldoret before Mr Ruto’s defence said he was its witness.

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UNDER SIEGE

“Prosecution witnesses in this case have been under siege,” said Ms Bensouda. “The Office of the Prosecutor has identified a network of individuals who have been working together to sabotage the prosecution’s case against Messrs Ruto and Sang, by using bribes and/or threats to either dissuade witnesses from testifying in this case or influence prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony.”

During past hearings, the prosecution often claimed that an unidentified ring was working tirelessly to frustrate its case.

In the statement delivered following Mr Yebei’s mysterious death, the prosecutor said she would make sure her witnesses give their accounts despite interference.

“The Office of the Prosecutor continues to monitor and investigate other incidents of witness interference. 

“Investigations and prosecutions before the International Criminal Court can stand or fall on the willingness of witnesses to come forward and present their evidence in the courtroom. 

“The Office of the Prosecutor will continue to do everything in its power to ensure that witnesses are able to present their evidence before the Court without fear,” she said.

LINED UP TO TESTIFY

Before the court took a break, the prosecution said it still had a number of witnesses lined up to testify.

Some of the witnesses who gave their evidence through a video link in Nairobi said they had been coached to give adverse testimonies against Mr Ruto and Mr Sang.

Mystery had surrounded the party Mr Yebei was working for before he was kidnapped and brutally killed.

Mr Yebei was abducted on December 28 last year at Turbo, Uasin Gishu County. His mutilated body was found a week later floating in River Yala in Nandi County, 40 kilometres away.