, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – Deputy President William Ruto’s mother, Sarah, accompanied him to the airport on Monday as he left the country for the resumption of his trial at The Hague.
Ruto was also in the company of his wife Rachel who travelled with him to The Hague and has been by his side since the commencement of his trial exactly a week ago.
The Deputy President had returned to the country for four days following the premature adjournment of his trial on account of the late arrival at The Hague of the prosecution’s first witness.
During the brief hiatus, Ruto expressed confidence that he would be acquitted of all three counts of crimes against humanity given the prosecution’s case was already falling apart at the opening stage.
He is accused of murder, deportation or forcible transfer of populations and persecution during Kenya’s 2007-8 post-election violence.
“Amid reports four prosecution witnesses had withdrawn from his case, Ruto has maintained that the crimes against humanity charges against him would be dropped for lack of evidence,” a statement from the Deputy President’s Press Service on his return to The Hague read.
Reports received on Sunday indicated that four witnesses used to confirm the case against Ruto had written to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) demanding to be taken off the list of over 30 witnesses.
“The three Kiambaa fire survivors who lost property and relations stated they had withdrawn from the case due to the prevailing peace in the country,” sources indicated.
The OTP however maintains that it still has a strong case against Ruto despite the frequent reports of witness withdrawals on account of coerced testimony.
“Any witnesses who have complaints regarding their treatment by the Prosecution should not spread untested accounts in the media, but bring them before the Judges of the ICC, who will decide on the veracity or otherwise of their versions,” the OTP countered.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has in the past levelled her own accusations of witness tampering against the suspects and she too has been challenged to prove her case.
And as Ruto and his co-accused journalist Joshua arap Sang, enter the second week of their trials the question of witness credibility is bound to become increasingly contentious.
The other Kenyan case is against President Uhuru Kenyatta and is due to start on November 12.