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Ruto team accuses ICC Prosecution of threatening witnesses

COURTROOMNAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 25 – Deputy President William Ruto’s defence on Thursday accused the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecution of threatening to reveal the identity of a witness in a bid to compel him to give his testimony from the Hague.

Ruto’s defence counsel David Hooper said communication between Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) investigators and the witness showed that the investigators informed the witness that, “something terribly serious had come up,” and if he remained unwilling to go to the Hague they would be obligated to, “ask the Kenyan government to protect you.”

That actwould in essence reveal his identity to a government officer against the court’s procedures.

The Attorney General Githu Muigai had in February told the court that Kenya could not compel its citizens to testify before the court, as it did not know them.

“If it is the seven witnesses that are alleged to have disappeared, whose identity I do not know, whose location I do not know, then we would have to have a legal procedure consistent with the treaty, consistent with the statute and consistent with Kenyan law,” he submitted to the Chamber.

READ: Force ICC witnesses to testify? Forget it — Muigai

On Thursday however, Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg in turn accused Hooper of being, “incorrect.”

He said the communication between OTP investigators and their 24th witness would merely show that he was being informed of a, “serious security issue.”

“Certainly we did contact all the witnesses who were due to be summoned and apprised them of the increased risk as a result of that summons. The situation with respect to this witness which dealt with the security issue pertaining to another witness which impacted also upon this witness. And it is in fact that which is being referred to in these conversations,” he told the court.

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A security issue, Steynberg said, that presented itself sometime in early March and which was covered by a ruling of non-disclosure but Hooper still insisted that the situation wasn’t as the trial attorney presented it.

The Senior Trial Attorney however insisted they would only disclose the full extent of the security issue by order of the court denying Hooper’s request for even a redacted version what they believed to be damning communication between the OTP investigators and the witness.

The 24th prosecution witness is the third to testify via video link and the third to be declared hostile after testifying that he gave false statement against Ruto for the promise of a better life abroad.

READ: I lied to get new identity, life overseas – ICC witness

The Prosecution has also applied to have his testimony impeached as it sought to prove on Thursday that he was lying to the court by disowning the statement he had given to it.

The witness continues to testify on Friday when the defence will have opportunity to question him.

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