NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – The fifth ICC Prosecution witness against Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang on Wednesday flip-flopped on Ruto’s alleged directive to have all Kikuyus removed from the Rift Valley, saying that he could not remember the exact words used during a political rally in December 2007.
However, the witness had confidently told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Ruto explicitly said that all Kikuyus in the region must be ferried to Central Kenya on a pickup truck before later recanting his statement.
The witness claimed that Ruto spoke in riddles and intermittent Kalenjin at the Orange Democratic Movement rally at Eldoret’s 64 Stadium at and it was difficult to tell exactly what was said.
“What actually did you hear Mr Ruto say?” asked one of Ruto’s lawyers, David Hooper.
“As I said yesterday he said that Kikuyus were to be put on a pickup and taken back to Central. That one I heard it very clearly,” responded the witness.
Hooper however read out a statement that the witness had written to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) quoting Ruto as having said that ‘land grabbers’ would be taken to Central Kenya.
The lawyer took the witness to task noting the significant change between his statement to the OTP and his account on the stand.
“Can you remember telling the Prosecutor this in November; ‘When Ruto spoke he spoke about the ODM manifesto and what they would do if they won. He also said that those people who were not satisfied with the ODM leadership would be put in a pickup and taken back to Central Province’. Do you remember saying that?” Hooper asked.
“Yes,” answered the witness.
“There is nothing here about grabbers; nothing here about Kikuyus but people who were not satisfied with the ODM leadership,” Hooper pointed out.
“That is why I am telling you that he spoke in riddles and he could say any word to refer to Kikuyus,” argued the witness.
Hooper however discounted the witness’s account further asking him what exactly he had heard during the rally.
The witness had initially told the court that he left the rally after Ruto spoke because he wasn’t happy with the manner in which the crowd was responding to the politicians’ speeches.
According to the witness all the ODM Pentagon members were there but he could neither recall what any of them said nor who among them spoke first.
“Did he (Ruto) use the word Kikuyu?” asked Hooper.
“No he did not use the word Kikuyu,” responded the witness.
“So let me ask you this, if he didn’t use the word Kikuyu, what word did he use?” prodded the lawyer.
“I think he spoke in Kalenjin and used the words grabbers,” said the witness.
“So did he say we will put the grabbers in a pickup?” asked the lawyer.
“I can remember something like that,” responded the witness.
“So is it Kikuyus in the pickup or grabbers in the pickup?” inquired Hooper.
“I remember it was grabbers,” said the witness.
The witness also told the court that he got to the stadium sometime between 2pm and 3pm on that day and that all the ODM Pentagon members were at the venue.
He however changed his statement saying he had to wait a little bit before the politicians arrived.