By George Githinji
During the last month, the mainstream media has treated us with anecdotes regarding how Moses Kuria procured witnesses to â€˜fixâ€™ the Deputy President William Ruto at The Hague. Moses Kuria claims to have procured the witnesses for as low as Ksh2000 each and goes ahead to incriminate other politicians like the former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Martha Karua as being part of the saga. Nevertheless, the timing of these anecdotes is rather fishy and its motives uncertain.
Nevertheless, despite all these claims of procuring witnesses to â€˜fixâ€™ William Ruto at The Hague, certain issues regarding the ICC cases since they began need to be ironed out. These issues are concerned with the interference of witnesses, including witness bribery, witness intimidation and witness disappearances.
Issues of witness bribery became popular when Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and their cronies began accusing the civil society, especially the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), of using bribes to procure witnesses to testify against them at the International Criminal Court (ICC). DP William Ruto also accused the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga of having â€˜fixedâ€™ him at The Hague after they fell out during the era of the coalition government, but that claim did not hold water for long.
Issues of bribery also arose when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were accused of using their cronies to bribe ICC Prosecution witnesses to recant their evidence against them. They would approach the witnesses and allegedly entice them with large amounts of money. Numerous stories of witnesses having achieved lifestyle changes because of these bribes have been reported in the media in the past.
Witness intimidation is an issue that was often raised by the ICC Prosecution regarding its witnesses recanting their evidence after fearing for their lives. This situation was exacerbated when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto became president and deputy president respectively. The witnesses reported receiving death threats from â€˜unknownâ€™ sources telling them to recant their evidence or withdraw as prosecution witnesses, failure to which negative consequences would befall them. Many withdrew in the process. Other witnesses became intimidated by the newly found status of the presidency by Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto and, fearing for their lives, they withdrew from the prosecution witness position.
Witness disappearances involves the identified ICC prosecution witnesses being kidnapped and never to be found. Many of them turned up dead and others disappeared completely. This has caused agony and anguish to the families of the victims who â€˜disappearedâ€™. Witness disappearances have been blamed on the president, his deputy and their cronies. There are cases where, when the ICC cases were in session, the prosecution could not trace certain witnesses because they could not be found in their last known position. Nevertheless, others went into hiding fearing for their lives, often due to intimidation.
Therefore, for Kenyans and the PEV victims to find closure, these three issues must be addressed. The civil society organizations involved in obtaining witnesses for the ICC prosecution ought to come clean on how they did it. The president, his deputy and their cronies should also come out clean regarding issues of witness intimidation and disappearances, including deaths of the witnesses (and further investigations done).
It is very pathetic that the narrative has been diverted to favor the president and his deputy while the plight of the PEV victims has been neglected. To make matters worse, some IDPs are still in camps and the Jubilee government is playing politics with their plight.
Otherwise, Moses Kuria should stop bickering about who â€˜fixedâ€™ Ruto thereby raising unnecessary tensions to hoodwink Kenyans.