Dead ICC witness was corrupt, says Bensouda
09 January 2015, 18:41
The Hague - A Kenyan businessman found murdered last week was "deeply implicated" in corrupting witnesses in the International Criminal Court's case against Vice President William Ruto, the court's prosecutor said on Friday.
Meshack Yebei, described by Ruto's lawyer as a "critical" witness for the politician's defence case, was found dead -- and badly mutilated according to some reports -- on January 4 in western Kenya's Nandi district.
The office of ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said it had not called Yebei as a witness because, among other things, he "was deeply implicated in the scheme to corrupt prosecution witnesses in the case against Ruto and (co-accused radio presenter Joshua Arap) Sang."
Ruto has been on trial at the ICC since September 2013 on charges of organising post-election violence in the east African country in 2007-2008. More than 1,200 people died and 600,000 were displaced in the chaos.
But both Ruto and co-defendant Joshua Arap Sang, a radio presenter, have denied all charges.
Kenya's ICC investigations have been littered with allegations of witness intimidation, bribery and false testimony, and the prosecutor's office said prosecution witnesses were "under siege".
The office said it had "identified a network of individuals who have been working together to sabotage the prosecution's case against Ruto and Sang, by using bribes and/or threats to either dissuade witnesses from testifying in this case or influence prosecution witnesses to recant their testimony."
Charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta were dropped last month after the ICC prosecutor was ordered to strengthen or abandon the case.
Kenyatta maintained his innocence throughout and reacted by saying his conscience was "absolutely clear" regarding the post-election killings, the worst in Kenya's history since winning independence from Britain in 1963.
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