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Statement by Karim A. A. Khan QC, Lead Counsel for H.E.

Ruto, regarding the reported abduction and murder of
Mr. Meshak Yebei

13 January 2015

The sad news of the reported death of Mr. Meschek Yebei has been widely
reported in the Kenyan and International press. Before today, I had declined all
requests by the media to comment on this matter. I was not prepared to make
any public statement to confirm or deny that Mr. Yebei was a defence witness for
H.E. William Ruto in the immediate aftermath of his alleged abduction and
murder. Rather than engaging in public press releases, or agreeing to media
request for interviews, I wrote a confidential letter to the Director of CID in Kenya
requesting that certain investigations be conducted, relevant to the incident. I was
dismayed and gravely concerned that this confidential communication found its
way into the press. I have requested an urgent inquiry into the circumstances of
this leak.
A press release by the Registry on 6th January 2015 was followed by a press
release by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, on 9th January 2015. After
offering condolences to the family of Mr. Yebei, the OTP then proceeded with
what can only be described as a gratuitous character assassination of an
individual not available to defend himself and without regard to the dignity of the
family of the deceased. The prosecution stated that before the present trial
against H.E. William Ruto commenced, it had information indicating that Mr
Yebei was deeply implicated in the scheme to corrupt prosecution witnesses.
Despite these claims, it is highly significant that the Prosecution never sought an
arrest warrant against Mr. Yebei pursuant to Article 70 of the Rome Statute.
Given that Mr. Yebei was a Defence witness, and in light of the press statement
by the OTP, I now consider it necessary to make this statement.
Mr. Yebeis first contact with my Defence team was in July 2013. Mr. Yebei told
us about a cabal of prosecution witnesses who had deliberately concocted false
accounts against H.E. William Ruto for financial and other benefits. We have
independently investigated and verified this information.
During the time Mr. Yebei was a defence witness, the Prosecution contacted and
interviewed him (without the knowledge of the Defence) concerning allegations
that he was involved in witness interference activities. Mr. Yebei, also without the
knowledge of the Defence, fully cooperated with the Prosecution, voluntarily

travelled to a third country and made himself available for questioning there
by Prosecution investigators. In that interview, Mr. Yebei denied the allegations
against him. For example, on a date a key prosecution witness claimed Mr. Yebei
was in Nairobi in a meeting relating to alleged witness interference, Mr. Yebei
told the Prosecution he was in Eldoret. The Defence obtained full hospital
records demonstrating that Mr. Yebei had, in fact, been hospitalised in Eldoret
on the day in question, and had been there the day before, as well as the day
after the alleged meeting in Nairobi. This information and evidence was disclosed
to the Prosecution by the Defence well before Mr. Yebei's disappearance.
Mr Yebei was referred to the ICC witness protection programme by me. The
Defence is conducting its own investigations into his alleged abduction and
apparent murder. I understand that the ICC-VWU remain engaged with this
inquiry - alongside the Kenyan police. The Defence has recently learned that the
Prosecution was fully on notice, months before the alleged abduction and murder
of Mr. Yebei, that he had been threatened with abduction by one of the
Prosecutions own witnesses. The same information - received independently by
the Defence - was one of the reasons I referred Mr. Yebei to the ICC-VWU for
protection. I have requested information from the Prosecution as to what steps it
took to alert the VWU of the information it received from one prosecution witness
that Mr. Yebei had been threatened with abduction by another prosecution
witness. I am still awaiting a response from the Prosecution to this enquiry.
Members of my team and I are in contact with the family of Mr. Yebei. Once
again, I extend my heartfelt condolences to them. I know that they are mourning
their loss and they feel hurt by the Prosecution's press release. I have met Mr
Yebei several times and interviewed him with members of my team. I
acknowledge and applaud his willingness to engage with the Defence and with
the ICC process. Indeed, he requested that he be allowed to testify in a public
session at the appropriate time, in order that Kenyans may hear the truth about
this case. I commend him as a courageous man who cooperated with the
Defence and the ICC-VWU, despite knowing that elements exist that do not wish
the truth about the case against H.E. William Ruto to emerge.
Any witness - whether for the Prosecution or the Defence - that engages with the
court, in order to speak the truth, is heroic in my mind. It is an absolute tragedy
that it appears that Meschek Yebei was murdered. A thorough, timely and
vigorous investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Yebei s disappearance and
apparent murder is imperative. Until that is done, I can only repeat what I have
publicly and privately stated numerous times in Kenya and elsewhere: Everyone
should give the ICC (and, in this case, those charged with domestic criminal
investigations) space to do their work. Everyone should refrain from unnecessary
public speculation and inflammatory comments at this time. The attack on Mr.
Yebei was an attack on H.E. William Ruto and the fabric of justice itself. Whilst I

have lost someone who I described to the Court, many months ago, as a critical
Defence witness, I remain firmly of the view that no one will be able to prevent
the truth from emerging in this case. Accordingly, my team and I
remain determined that justice will prevail in this case.
Karim A. A. Khan QC
Lead Counsel for H. E. William Samoei Ruto
13th January 2015

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