Although the opening statements of the parties proceeded as per the script that’s been written over the past year, one comment by Joshua Sang’s lawyer caught a number of us off-guard: though it should not have come as much of a surprise. At one point, Mr. Katwa-Kigen accused the prosecutor of placing the Kalenjin community- it’s culture and traditions- on trial. Though Katwa-Kigen is Joshua Sang’s lawyer, his utterance cuts across the cases. It creates the impression that the destiny of an ethnic community is at stake at the ICC; that the conviction of a Kalenjin defendant is a conviction of the Kalenjin Community.
The Prosecution was pretty prompt in protesting this characterisation of their case, but the comment was also unfortunate because it plays into the hands of those who believe that the ‘electoral truce’ between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities (which helped bring about the most peaceful poll in over two decades) hinges upon the outcome of the 2 trials.
Let’s hope all the parties will focus on defending the clients they’re paid to defend and not try to rope in millions of Kenyans as co-defendants.