NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 27 – Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Thuita Mwangi took to the witness stand at the International Criminal Court on Tuesday and vigorously defended Francis Muthaura who is facing war crimes charges, often painting him as a professional career civil servant who cannot participate in planning violence.
“It is absurd, completely out of character for Amb Muthaura,” Mr Mwangi said of one of the allegations facing Muthaura to the effect that he attended a meeting at a member’s club in Nairobi to plan the poll chaos of 2007.
“I have known him for a long time and worked under him for quite a long time, it is not possible for him to do that,” he added.
The PS who appeared as the second viva voce witness for Amb Muthaura also dismissed accusations put up by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo that Muthaura had given orders to the then police commissioner Maj Gen (rtd) Hussein Ali to ensure his officers stood aside to watch as Mungiki gangs meted violence on people perceived to be ODM supporters in Naivasha.
Mwangi told the International Criminal Court that police commissioners in Kenya do not take orders “at all” from the Head of Public Service as alleged by the prosecution.
He said holders of such offices only report to the Minister in charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration as opposed to the prosecution evidence showing that Muthaura had defacto and de jure control over Maj-Gen Ali who served as Kenya’s police commissioner when some 1,333 people were killed in the county’s worst violence stemming out of an election dispute of 2007.
“Ali does not report to Muthaura, in the government administrative structure, it is very clear whom the police commissioner reports to. It is the minister for internal security,” the PS told three war crime judges weighing whether or not to commit Muthaura and five other Kenyan suspects to full trial.
Amb Muthaura is appearing as a suspect alongside Deputy Premier Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Ali as suspects in the second case brought up at the court by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo who has named them as possible masterminds and financiers of the deadly violence that broke out in the east African nation caused by an election dispute between President Mwai Kibaki and his then bitter political rival Raila Odinga who is Kenya’s prime minister courtesy of a power sharing deal brokered after the chaos.
Odinga insisted he had been robbed of victory at the time, sparking violent protests mainly in the Rift Valley, Central and Nairobi Provinces where his supporters clashed with those of incumbent president kibaki, resulting to the worst ever violence ever witnessed here.
Ocampo has put a case against the three suspects alongside former ministers Henry Kosgey, William Ruto and Radio Presenter Joshua Arap Sang as possible planners who should be held individually responsible for destabilizing Kenya.
On Tuesday, Mwangi put up a strong defence of his boss in the government structure to try to convince the judges that he had been framed.
Amb Muthaura is accused of assembling a gang of Mungikis at State House Nairobi where he armed them with guns and machetes and clad them Administrative Police uniforms before he dispatched them to Naivasha to kill people, in what of his many strategies employed to keep President Kibaki in power.
As Cabinet Secretary, Ocampo said Muthaura used his position to order the then police commissioner Mr Ali to ensure his officers stood aside to allow the Mungiki to commit crimes.
“The police commissioner did not directly report to Ambassador Muthaura, he only reported to him indirectly through the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) which Muthaura chaired,” the PS said in his defence and gave an account of how NSAC operates.
Mwangi is himself a member of NSAC.
He said NSAC is one of the government structures which draws membership from various ministries responsible with security-related matters of in the country.
In giving testimony on how NSAC operates, Mr Mwangi said it usually meets on every first Tuesday of every month unless there are urgent matters to be discussed on other days.
He said Ambassador Muthaura was never dominance whenever he chaired NSAC meetings.
“Amb Muthaura is very consultative, he would always invite anyone who has an issue to give expert opinion or ideas on what should be done, he is very consultative indeed,” he said.
On Monday, Kilifi District Commissioner Lucas Katee Mwanza who served as DC in Naivasha at the time Muthaura is accused of having armed Mungiki gangs and deployed them to cause mayhem in the town, was in the witness box.
Mwanza was taken to task by the prosecution and presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova to explain discrepancies in his testimonies which largely differed from what he told the Waki commission in Nairobi when it documented the violence.
“When I look at the statement you gave to the Waki commission and after listening to your evidence before this court, I realize that there is a difference, would you kindly explain that discrepancy,” the judge told the witness, citing his testimonies mainly on the acknowledgement he gave to the Waki commission that the district security intelligence committee he chaired in Naivasha had received prior information of the violence planning.
“I believe every country has its own way of receiving intelligence and here I am talking about the intelligence from the NSIS and other kinds of intelligence,” Mwanza said as he tried to convince the court of the consistency in his evidence.