Ruto accuses rights official of coaching chaos witnesses

Eldoret North MP addresses a news conference at Parliament Buildings November 9, 2010. He accused a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official of coaching and paying witnesses to connect him to the post election violence FREDRICK ONYANGO.

Eldoret North MP William Ruto has accused a Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official of coaching and paying witnesses to connect him to the post election violence.

He pointed a finger to the commissioner, whom he said travelled to Eldoret for the sole purpose of engaging the witnesses where he promised them money and a good life abroad.

The suspended Higher Education minister said the commissioner visited the Rift Valley town, which was the epicentre of the chaos long before International Criminal Court field investigators started their probe to compromise witnesses.

He claimed he hired, coached and bribed six witnesses whose evidence is being relied on by the International Criminal Court to nail post election violence masterminds.

"Mr Hassan Omar talked about impunity. I want to inform Mr Hassan Omar that there is no greater impunity than to recruit and bribe witnesses to subvert the course justice in a process where so many lives of innocent Kenyans was lost,” Mr Ruto told a press conference at Parliament Buildings Tuesday.

“Mr Hassan Omar is the schemer and mercenary in this whole scheme. Let him respond to this. Did he travel to Eldoret to assemble witnesses who had been coached to testify before the Waki and the Human rights commission,” Mr Ruto further posed.

He accused the outspoken KNCHR official of collaborating with some politicians to implicate him in the violence that claimed the lives of 1,333 people and uprooted thousands from their homes.

He claimed that the six witnesses who were bribed and coached by Mr Hassan have already been flown out of the country, ready to testify before the ICC should the ICC judges give its chief prosecutor Mr Luis Moreno Ocampo the go-ahead to open charges against the suspected masterminds of the violence.

“Has Mr Hassan Omar been paying those so called witnesses money, did he promise them that they will live in foreign capitals? Let him tell Kenyans how much money he has been paying them and what is the source of the money,” Mr Ruto posed.

He claimed that Mr Omar worked closely with “political collaborators” to coach and bribe the witnesses who implicated him in the violence during interviews with the human rights agency and the Waki commission. 

Asked to provide evidence to support his claims against Mr Omar, Mr Ruto retorted: “Let him tell us. He knows better.”

Further prodded to name Mr Omar’s alleged political collaborators, the Eldoret North MP also shrugged off the question; “He knows them better, let him respond to my questions and then I will ask him a few more questions.”

On Monday, Mr Ruto, on arrival from the Hague, tore into the KNCHR and the judicial inquiry into the post election violence chaired by Mr Justice Philip Waki.

Flanked by MPs allied to him, he described the findings of the reports as “lies, propaganda and falsehoods” that had prompted him to go to The Hague to “put the record straight”.

The truth about the plotters and executors of the chaos”, he said, “would soon come out”.

However, he did not provide any hints on the nature of fresh information that might emerge.

The KNCHR report On the Brink of the Precipice: A Human Rights Account of Kenya’s Post 2007 Election named Mr Ruto as an alleged perpetrator on their list derived from the interviews of victims and witnesses.

The commission alleged the Eldoret North MP played an instrumental role in the planning, incitement and financing of the violence.

The Waki Commission also identified key suspects for further investigation, but kept the list in a sealed envelope handed over to chief mediator Kofi Annan, who later submitted it to Mr Moreno-Ocampo.