Reluctant witnesses continue to impede the prosecution’s case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang at the ICC in The Hague.
The trial of the two men, accused of orchestrating crimes against humanity during Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence, resumed earlier this month following the Court’s summer recess with the testimony of witness 604—one of nine being compelled to appear for the prosecution.
Witness 604 has retracted his initial statement implicating Ruto in the post-election violence.
He revealed that he falsified diary entries which suggested that Ruto had incited violence towards the Kikuyu ethnic group in radio broadcasts and rallies.
He also said that he made up a meeting that was supposed to have taken place at Ruto’s home in December 2007, weeks ahead of the general elections that year, to make his statement “more reliable.”
Asked why he had given false testimony, witness 604 answered that he had been coached and it was assured to him that his children’s education and relocation outside of Kenya would be arranged in return.
After rejecting an initial request, the trial’s three judges have now granted the prosecution’s demand that witness 604 be considered “hostile” on account of the extensive degree in which the witness testimony has diverged from the statement he provided to the prosecution, his evasive demeanor and his accusations of bribery.
The prosecution is now able to cross-examine witness 604 with leading questions in order to ascertain the veracity of his claims.
Witness 604, who claims to have knowledge of others involved in alleged witness-tampering, will continue to testify under protective measures from a remote location via video-link.
The remainder of the prosecution witnesses are also set to testify via video-link, but their availability has reportedly not been confirmed.
The prosecution wants judges to allow reluctant witnesses’ initial statements be admitted as evidence if they fail to appear to testify at trial. It also requested permission to introduce new evidence to prove that key witnesses have been bribed or intimidated.
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