A witness who claims to have been a victim of the Kiambaa church fire incident in Eldoret at the height of the post-election violence has withdrawn from the first case at the ICC.
The witness is the latest of several who have pulled out of the case involving Deputy President William Rutothat begins today at The Hague-based court.
The witness wrote to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensoudain a letter dated September 4 with a sworn affidavit accompanying it. “I write to notify you of my desire to withdraw from being a witness in the first Kenyan case. Kindly allow me to withdraw as I’m no longer able to continue,” read the letter in part.
In the affidavit, the witness said he was approached by a man named Paul, who requested him to help look for people who had witnessed and experienced the post-election violence in Eldoret. “I accepted to be such a witness at the ICC in relation to the events that took place during the 2007-2008 post-election violence around Eldoret,” he said.
The witness however said that upon reflection and soul searching, he did not desire to continue as a witness in the case. “That my name should therefore be removed from the list of witnesses in the case,” he said in the affidavit. The affidavit was filed on his behalf by lawyer Richard Wafula of Ngigi Mbugua and Company Advocates in Eldoret.
He further said he did not recall any of the accused persons uttering any inciting words or participating in the violence or the destruction of property. “I therefore swear this affidavit to recant all and any statements that have been attributed to me,” said the witness.
He added that he made the decision to recant out of his “own free will and without any duress, coercion or inducement”.
Recently, officials from the ICC visiting the country ahead of today’s trials said the court was concerned with the level at which witnesses were pulling out of the cases.
ICC Head of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation in the Office of the Prosecutor, Mr Phakisao Mochochoko, said the withdrawal was the highest in the history of the court.
He blamed witness intimidation and threats as possible reasons behind the withdrawal but added it is a bigger question the court was seeking answers to.
His counterpart, Maria Kamara however said in Eldoret last week that the withdrawal did not mean cases at The Hague had been affected.
Kamara said there is a lot involving the cases that was not in the public domain.