Silenced Witnesses: The Ghosts of Crimes Past

In her opening statement, Fatou Bensouda, warned people allegedly bribing and intimidating ICC witnesses that her office was investigating.

Almost a week later, a local daily ran a story in which they detailed how a group was tracking down ICC witnesses, luring them out of hiding and offering them money to ‘forget’ their testimony. One passage, in particular, caught my eye:

Another [alleged prosecution witness] claimed he quit the ICC train after he was told that his elderly mother was ailing and might die in his absence…[t]he man from Uasin Gishu County returned to Kenya late last month.

It had echoes of the fate of a previous case involving Bernard Kiriinya, a police officer who was a witness to Police extra-judicial executions. Bernard thought he was safe hiding out with local Human Rights groups and telling them his chilling story. Unfortunately, in the Kenya Police, like in the Brazilian Police, ‘The System’ of police executioners takes care of its traitors.

Reports of what happened to Bernard Kiriinya conflict: some sources said Kiriinya came out of hiding to help his family move to safety, others claim he left his safe house after a visit from a friend while another allegation was that he was lured out by a phone call telling him that one of his children was either seriously ill or had been involved in an accident (like I said, the reports vary). What is unanimously agreed is that when Kiriinya came out of hiding, he got shot through the head.

Fortunately (if indeed bribery is good fortune), unlike in Kiriinya’s case, it seems the supposed witness hunters in the ICC Kenya cases are using the carrot rather than the stick to silence their prey.

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Following the Hague trials of 4 Kenyans to the end. A blog by Archie Nyarango

UK Constitutional Law Association

affiliated to the International Association of Constitutional Law

AfricLaw

Advancing the rule and role of law in Africa

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