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Kenya Lawmakers to Accompany Deputy President Ruto at ICC Trial

  • Peter Clottey

William Ruto sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, May 14, 2013.

William Ruto sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, May 14, 2013.

On Monday, the first group of about 20 Kenyan legislators is accompanying Deputy President William Ruto to The Hague before his scheduled trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to lawmaker Elisha Kipkorir Busienei. Mr. Ruto’s trial begins Tuesday.

“All of them are not going to be cross examined, but it is only to show solidarity to him. What they are doing at The Hague is just a fabrication, and as you can see some of the witnesses are withdrawing because they know that cannot stand and justify what they were talking about,” said Busienei.

Also going on trial Tuesday is former radio host Joshua Arap Sang, who is accused of involvement in the deadly violence.

Busienei is a member of parliament from the Rift Valley, where Ruto enjoys overwhelming support after representing the constituency in parliament before becoming Kenya’s deputy president.

Busienei says more than 100 lawmakers will go to Ruto’s trial in several groups as part of the legislators’ effort to provide him with moral support.

The Kenyan deputy president faces charges of complicity in the violence that left about 1,300 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes following the 2007-2008 post-election violence in the East African nation.

Busienei denied taxpayers will foot the bill for the lawmakers’ trip to The Hague.

“They will be paying for themselves, [and] that is the transport and accommodation,” said Busienei.

Critics say the lawmakers’ trip is a slap in the face to the victims and their families of the post-election violence because the legislators are providing support to the alleged perpetrators accused of playing a role in the violence.

Busienei disagreed saying, the ICC accusations and charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto are without merit.

“Truthfully speaking the members of parliament are actually representing the people from their constituencies, and that is the voice of the people of Kenya that they have a lot of confidence in the president and the deputy president. And that there is not any arrangement that was made, it was just a fabrication, it was just implication, and all other [accusations] that were done is not actually true,” said Busienei.

Last week, the ICC ruled prosecutor Fatou Bensouda can add two additional witnesses to her list in the case against Deputy President Ruto. This came after two witnesses withdrew from testifying before the court, citing family issues, safety and security concerns. But Busienei said that showed the case against the Kenyan politicians is weak.

“I do not think this case is having any weight at all, because some of us were here during that time, nobody arranged anything. It was just something that happened simultaneously, all over the country,” said Busienei.
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