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ICC calls first witness in Kenya case

17 September 2013, 17:33

The Hague - The prosecution in the crimes against humanity case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto called its first witness on Tuesday at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The woman's identity was kept secret, her face and voice distorted, under an order by presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. She was made known only as witness "P0536." Her initial statements were made in a closed session.

Eboe-Osuji went to great lengths to welcome the witness, attempting to assure her of her safety in the courtroom.

At one point the judge cut-off the defence counsel, Karim Khan, who started to warn the witness against giving false testimony.

"I do not want to create an intimidating atmosphere for a witness testifying," said the judge.

The prosecution has repeatedly charged that its witnesses have been intimidated. Several key witnesses have withdrawn from the trial, citing mental hardship.

Ruto, known for making religious statements, said at the weekend that the withdraw by the witnesses was a sign his prayers were being answered.

Eboe-Osuji ordered that the prosecution and defence submit statements on Wednesday with regards to the protection of witnesses, in particular given recent resolutions by the Kenyan parliament to withdraw the country from the ICC.

"Parties should be prepared to address the questions: Is it a fact that the parliament of Kenya adopted resolutions that may have any relevance to this case? If so what, if so when, if so why?"

There were indications the motions passed by the parliament caused delays in witnesses arriving to testify at The Hague.

Ruto and his co-accused, radio journalist Joshua Sang, are charged with orchestrating murder and the forcible displacement of people on ethnic grounds following the disputed 2007 election in Kenya.

The violence killed more than 1 000 people and displaced more than 600 000 Kenyans.

In November, the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will begin at the ICC on similar charges.

Kenyatta and Ruto were on opposing sides in 2007.



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