Opposition leader and former Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga is willing to testify in defence of Deputy President William Ruto who is facing crimes against humanity charges at International Criminal Court ( ICC). Raila Odinga said on Sunday that, if called upon, he would testify at the The Hague-based court where his former political ally is on trial alongside journalist Joshua Sang for their alleged role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
Raila however indicated that Ruto was yet to approach him to do so. Ruto’s charges are anchored on claims that as a member then of Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, he was determined to end former President Mwai Kibaki’s presidency and voted on Odinga’s side. When the power-sharing deal mediated by the African Union and international community was signed, Raila Odinga became a Prime Minister while Ruto joined Cabinet as Minister for Agriculture.
Sunday afternoon, Ruto welcomed Raila Odinga’s offer but once again insisted he was innocent and would soon be vindicated. “The Deputy President welcomes Hon Raila Odinga’s offer to testify, however, his conscience remains clear. He’s innocent and in a short while he will be vindicated,’’ ran a statement released by his office Sunday. See also: Five myths about Bensouda’s ICC pre-trial brief that must be debuked It added: “He has a competent legal team handling his case, which determines issues of evidence. He thanks all well wishers for prayers.”
However, it was not clear if at this stage on trial, Ruto can still introduce new witnesses and the process of doing so. “When asked to testify, I am ready and willing to do so on behalf of my party, ODM,” said the ex-PM on recent overtures by Ruto allies that he should consider testifying in Ruto’s defence because he was the party leader and Presidential candidate. Raila explained he was ready to tell ICC judges that his ODM party never at any time planned violence to harm any sections of the Kenyan community.
Prosecutors allege Ruto and the ODM orchestrated violence against Kibaki’s Party of National Unity supporters. The ICC cases arose from the violence following the disputed 2007 presidential election in which the electoral commission announced incumbent Kibaki as the winner but Raila, who was ODM’s candidate, too, claimed victory. Ruto was then a member of Raila’s ODM’s Pentagon, a team of regional political kingpins that led Raila Odinga presidential campaigns. ICC named six Kenyans from both political divides that prosecutors claimed bore the greatest responsibility for the violence in which over 1,200 were killed but cases against four of them were terminated, leaving Ruto and Sang in the dock.
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