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Fresh blow for Bensouda as fifth witness quits

benosoudaA fifth witness who was expected to testify this week in the trial against Deputy President William Ruto Tuesday recanted her entire statement and asked to withdraw from the proceedings.

Lawyer Frank Mwangi for the witness, who was set to fly to The Hague on Monday night, said though the victim lost everything she owned in the 2007-8 violence that erupted following disputed presidential election results, she no longer wished to give evidence as Kenya was now at peace.

She also said that the former warring communities had put behind the “ugly past” and forged a united front.

“My client has no wish to re-open healed wounds and is keen to be part of ongoing peace-building efforts in the country.

“She feels a lot has changed for the better and there is peace everywhere with the communities looking for ways to make the reconciliation being enjoyed permanent,” said Mr Mwangi.

EARTHLY BELONGINGS

In an exclusive interview with Daily Nation, Mr Mwangi said his client lost all her earthly belongings during the violence and even lived in a transition camp for over a year.

The Nakuru-based lawyer said his client had been coerced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to testify without any plans in place to guarantee her and her family’s protection.

“I wrote my statement between October 2012 and June 2013. Now I have been summoned to testify in the case against Vice President William Ruto without any clear guidelines on how I will be protected after I tender my evidence.

“Even members of my family have not been accorded any protection as enshrined in the ICC constitution,” she said.

“I feel my security and that of my family will be in jeopardy since no efforts have been made to provide them with adequate security. What assures me I will be protected after I have testified?” she asked in a three-page affidavit e-mailed and faxed to the Office of the Prosecutor in The Hague.

The witness said she was approached by an emissary from the ICC last week and was advised to prepare to travel to The Netherlands on Monday evening.

She said the emissary handed over all her travel and other necessary documents.

Insisting no one had induced, coerced or intimidated her to withdraw the statement, the witness said she felt that testifying would also have jeopardised the prevailing peace in the country.

She said her testimony had the possibility of causing flare-ups in areas that have enjoyed peace and development.

“Communities are helping one another to rebuild their lives deep inside the violent-prone areas and I feel and believe my testimony could affect these efforts,” the affidavit added.

-Nation

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