September 18, 2013 (NAIROBI) - The trial of Kenyan Vice President William Ruto resumed in The Hague on Tuesday with a prosecution witness describing an arson attack on a church at Kiambaa in which 36 people were burnt to death in 2008.
- Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, right, awaits the start of his trial in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 (AP Photo//Michael Kooren, Pool)
The witness, an alleged survivor of the arson, said the church was set ablaze by men armed with axes, machetes and sticks. The church, according to the witness, had as many as 350 women and children.
Prosecution alleges that “Ruto himself had identified Kiambaa as a target for attack and as being densely populated with Kikuyu.’’
The Kikuyu were perceived to be supporters of the ruling party led by then President Mwai Kibaki. Ruto was then supporter of the Opposition Orange Democratic Party (ODM) party led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Kibaki and Odinga later formed a unity government.
The first prosecution witness spoke behind a closed curtain with a distorted voice so she could not be identified.
The ICC’s prosecutor has in the past said witnesses against Ruto and Uhuru have been intimidated and bribed leading some to recant their testimonies.
On Wednesday, a senior Judge at the ICC warned Kenyan journalists and bloggers from revealing the identity of witnesses after media reports published pictures of a women they claimed was the prosecution’s first witness.
The Nation newspaper reported on Tuesday that the prosecution has 10 witnesses lined up against the Kenyan VP and former radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang. Both men deny any wrong doing.
Ruto and Sang are accused of murder, forcible population transfer and persecution, during the 2007-2008 disputed Kenyan elections
The violence led to the death of 1,200 people and displacement of 600,000.
The resumption of the trial followed an adjournment last week to allow the prosecution time to have its witness travel to The Hague, Netherlands.
Ruto returned to The Hague on Monday for the hearing accompanied by his wife and five legislators.
President Uhuru Kenyatta who is also accused by the ICC for crimes against humanity will appear before The Hague based court in November. He too denies any wrong doing.
The ICC is viewed by some African countries as biased against the leaders from the continent. The ICC denies the accusations.