, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor has been hit by yet another blow after four more witnesses pulled out of the case against Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang, barely two days before the continuation of their trial.
The witnesses include survivors of the Kiambaa Church arson attack which left up to 35 people killed, at the height of the post election violence.
Ruto and Sang-both accused of perpetrating the violence denied the charges when they appeared in the dock on Tuesday and Wednesday.
In an email seen by Capital FM News, one of the witnesses told the Prosecutor’s office, that they had decided to withdraw because of stress and lack of sleep due to the forthcoming trial.
“I want to inform you that for the last one month I have been unable to sleep because I am stressed. I have decided not to go forward with my testimony against Ruto and Sang,” he stated in the email. Several other witnesses have pulled out of the cases previously.
An insider told Capital FM News that the latest withdrawals were likely to have a major impact on Ruto and Sang cases because the prosecutor’s office had largely relied on their testimony at the confirmation stage.Ugandan conflict resolution expert David Matsanga who had long predicted that the cases against the Kenyans will collapse on Sunday said “it is a shame that the prosecutor’s office is still hanging onto this case even after all these withdrawals.”
“She (Bensouda) has no case at all. There was no investigation carried by her predecessor (Moreno Ocampo),” Matsanga said, and urged the prosecutor to wind up the case.
“That is the only way she can save her face and that of the court,” he said during the Talk 360 Show at Capital FM, adding “I have always maintained this position right from the beginning.”
There were reports that two more witnesses were likely to pull out of the case whose trial is set to resume on Tuesday after adjourning last week to await the arrival of an expert witness the prosecutor’s office is relying to open up its case.
On Sunday, Ruto stated that he was prepared to travel back to The Hague on Monday to attend his trial.
“And as I go to The Hague tomorrow (Monday), the Bible tells me to march down against them because I will not have to fight this battle. It also tells me to take up my position and stand firm without fear,” he said when he attended prayers at the Dominion Chapel in Kiserian in the outskirts of the capital Nairobi.
The Presiding Bishop Peter Ole Mankura said that Kenyans would pray ‘dangerous prayers’ that would lead to the collapse of the ICC cases against Ruto, Sang and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
While Ruto and Sang’s trial kicked off last week, the President will be in the dock in November 11.
“God we know that you are listening and we know that our cries and tears are not in vain,” said the Bishop in his sermon.
Various politicians who had accompanied Ruto at the church service also hit out at the ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, accusing her of hanging on what they termed as ‘a thread of lies’.
Kajiado Governor David Nkedienye, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, nominated Senator Kisasa Mshenga and nominated Senator Beatrice Elachi and other County government officials were present.
“I think the case is so desperate that they want to pick anything from anyone. How can they say that Ruto was planning for war simply because he wore the animal skin we normally wear when going for our traditional ceremonies,” Murkomen posed, in reference to a video clip played in court at the start of Ruto’s trial.
“What will she (Bensouda) say when she hears of the Maasai culture where they drink raw blood? Will she lock up all the Maasais,” he added.