Sound alarm bells over this case, Ruto’s Counsel to ICC judges
The International Criminal Court prosecution team has told the court that it has recordings of conversations in which persons claiming to be acting on behalf of the accused were interfering with witnesses.
Ruto’s defense lawyer Karim Khan, however, insists that prosecution intermediaries lured witnesses to give false statements with prospects of a good life outside Africa and monetary compensations.
The court was sitting Thursday to listen to submissions on whether to grant or reject the prosecution’s request to have recanted evidence admitted as evidence.
Faced with a predicament where only 29 out of the 42 witnesses lined up to testify turning up, with some of those who recanted having been forced through summonses to appear, the prosecution team wants the chamber to consider the initial statements of the witnesses who recanted to make up for the lost evidence which they say is critical to the case.
Anton Steynberg, the prosecution counsel, said: “We have evidence from certain witnesses relating to attempts to bribe them and in the analogy of attempts to bribe other witnesses but we don’t have the complete picture.”
“We have put up a number of recorded conversation which demonstrate the pattern of interference and also we demonstrate the link between the interference and persons who at least claim to be acting on behalf of Mr. William Ruto.”
Contrary to the prosecution’s belief that witnesses were improperly influenced to change their testimony in favour of the accused, the defense insists the witnesses had in fact been enticed with money and relocations out of Africa to fabricate stories around the accused.
“None of this interference comes from the defense. At least in part these are schemes by intermediaries and prosecution witnesses to make money, they say like we read in the old days of Dickens that the Roads of London are paved with gold, the fact of relocation has acted as a factor,” said Karim Khan.
“How then should we get round that hurdle? It’s to look at what prosecution should have done but didn’t do. Warning bells should be sounded, warning lights should be fixed. It cannot be right to shut your eyes at that.”
To determine where the truth lies, the prosecution urges the chamber to examine both the prior recorded statements and the testimonies given under oath.
The judges’ decision on whether to admit the initial statements as evidence will largely determine the fate of the Deputy President and his co-accused journalist Joshua Sang.
Sylvia Chebet contributed to this report
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