, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 10 – As part of his opening speech, Deputy President William Ruto’s defence counsel Karim Khan informed the International Criminal Court (ICC) that, “the confirmation hearings attracted an audience in Kenya perhaps only second to independence.”
But a spot-check by Capital FM News correspondents in the major towns of Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisumu on Tuesday revealed that the opening session of Ruto and radio personality Joshua Sang’s trial did not command nearly as much attention.
“I’m so busy at work and I have deadlines to beat. Whatever the outcome, I don’t think it has any influence on my day to day life,” one Kisumu resident by the name of Lilian told Capital FM News.
But given that the trials touch directly on Kenya’s President and his Deputy, the Centre for Peace Building and Strategic Studies thought it vital to set up a screen on which the residents of the lake-side town could keep an eye on the proceedings.
“Whether the people come to this screening or not, they could be watching from wherever they are, we are good to go and we’re happy,” James Owaka said on behalf of the Centre.
Unlike Lilian, Oduor plans to follow every twist and turn of the trial in order to see if justice will be done for the property he lost in the aftermath of the 2007 general election.
“I’ll be coming here to watch it because I want to know the final results, whether justice has been done because some of us lost our property,” he said.
The Rift-Valley was the worst affected by the 2007-8 Post-Election Violence and so it stands to reason that a large number of Nakuru residents would be interested in the proceedings of Trial Chamber V but there was concern that reliving the horror through the broadcasts would stir up animosity long buried.
“The case proceedings will only open old wounds between the tribes that were mainly involved in the violence, it would have been better if Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta were tried immediately after the violence,” Samuel Kamuyu ironically stated as he stood to watch the trial on a screen set up at Old Town Nakuru.
The ICC outreach team set up various screens particularly in the areas hardest hit by the 2007-8 PEV perhaps having in mind the great interest the Kenyan cases have generated in the past.
But for one Mombasa resident, the viewer apathy isn’t so surprising given the prosecution’s constant bleeding of witnesses.
“The interest that people had at the time of confirmation has been watered down by the withdrawal of witnesses and there’s a general view that the cases are becoming weaker and weaker by the day.”