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How Moses Kuria's ICC claims sparked political storm

THE HAGUE TRIAL
By Ally Jamah | December 24th 2015

The latter part of this year saw a massive rise in political temperatures over the International Criminal Court (ICC), thanks to one Moses Kuria.

The controversial Gatundu South MP kicked off the whole storm when he sensationally claimed to be part of a clique that coached witnesses who may have been used against Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC.

In his characteristic style, Mr Kuria challenged opposition leader Raila Odinga to also come out clear on his role in the case facing Ruto, claiming he played a big role in the woes facing the DP.

Mr Kuria also claimed Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua was part of the team used to coach witnesses to fix Ruto, a claim she vehemently rejected.

As a result of his comments, the country was consumed by weeks of renewed and fierce political debates and rallies about the ICC case facing Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.

Kuria made his comments in September at one of the controversial 'prayer rallies'. Some analysts had suggested Kuria's outbursts about witness coaching and willingness to testify on behalf of Ruto were tactics to minimise alleged widening differences in the coalition between The National Alliance (TNA) party of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto's United Republican Party (URP).

A section of URP politicians had publicly expressed concerns that TNA was not keen on helping Ruto unshackle himself from the ICC as they were enthusiastic in attempting to save Uhuru, whose ICC case was dropped. Some even threatened to leave the coalition if the situation did not change.

GROWING FRUSTRATION

There were also indications of growing frustration among Ruto's key supporters in the Rift Valley with President Kenyatta over perceptions that the DP had been "abandoned" to fight the ICC case alone.

This provoked a series of 'prayer rallies' across the country by TNA and URP politicians to demonstrate their backing of Ruto against ICC.

TNA politicians went to great lengths during the rallies to send the message that they stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ruto.

In this context, Kuria also offered to testify on behalf of Ruto at the ICC to help him win the case by arguing some of the prosecutor's witnesses may have been coached to fix Ruto.

Similarly, Kuria alleged that Raila and Kisumu Senator Anyang' Nyong'o wrote to the ICC. He challenged the three leaders to tell Kenyans the truth about the ICC cases.

Raila said he was willing to testify for Ruto as long as President Kenyatta orders his close allies to disclose the names of witnesses involved in fixing the DP.

Kuria characterised the witness coaching as fuelled by the cut-throat political rivalry between Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which were locked in a bitter dispute over the 2013 polls outcome.

"I was part of the team that wrote a letter to ICC and this was political theatrics and we need to tell Kenyans the truth.

"I told them (witnesses) to go and tell them (commissions) ODM are very bad people. We won the elections and they couldn't allow us to vote in their areas," he argued on a live TV show.

Kuria said they procured five witnesses and paid them Sh2,000 each to testify before the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence led by Judge Phillip Waki and the Commission of Inquiry into the conduct of the 2007 polls by South African Judge Johanne Kriegler.

He said the same witnesses may have been used by ICC, claiming that The Hague-based court relied heavily on the Waki Commission to gather evidence, a claim that ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has repeatedly rejected.

Experts had suggested Kuria should be held accountable by the international court for his claims. Kuria subsequently met ICC officials in Nairobi to shed more light on his witness-coaching claims, but the outcome of the meeting remains unclear.

But ICC strongly rejects that its choice of witnesses was influenced by letters sent by Kuria and others or testimonies given to the Waki and Kriegler commissions.

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