In Summary
  • Interestingly, Mr Chamalan was among suspects tried and acquitted by the High Court in Nakuru over the atrocity for lack of evidence.
  • The witness also received verbal threats from her fellow workers of the Kalenjin community.
  • In an emotional narrative, the witness recounted how she and some of her family members fled their home and sought refuge at the church on New Year’s Eve following the threats and attacks on the Kikuyu at Kimuri area.

The attack on Kiambaa Church in which an estimated 35 people were burnt to death was led by a local Orange Democratic Movement leader, the International Criminal Court was told Tuesday.

The first witness to take the stand identified Stephen Kipleting Chamalan, then an ODM politician, as the man commanding the youths who burnt mainly women and children as they cowered in the church.

Witness 536, testifying behind a curtain said she clearly saw Mr Chamalan through a hole in the walls of the church and that he was carrying a jerrican.

Interestingly, Mr Chamalan was among suspects tried and acquitted by the High Court in Nakuru over the atrocity for lack of evidence.

The witness was giving evidence in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and former radio talk show host Joshua arap Sang at The Hague.

An attack on the Kenya Assemblies of God church, about 10km from Eldoret Town on January 1, 2008, is one of the most horrific atrocities of the post-election violence and was brutally reminiscent of the Rwandan genocide.

Mr Chamalan had contested the 2007 General Election on an ODM ticket, the witness stated. He was elected County Representative for Ngeria Ward, Uasin Gishu County, in the March 4 elections on a URP ticket.

Led in her testimony by prosecutor Anton Steynberg, the witness said the attack had been preceded by threats and arson attacks against the Kikuyu in the area. The attacks and threats were carried out by youths from the Kalenjin community, she said. In one such attack on December 30, 2007, the youths burnt down a house belonging to the witness’ parents.

The witness also received verbal threats from her fellow workers of the Kalenjin community.

Steynberg: Who was issuing the threats and who was threatened?

Witness: It was the Kalenjin youth who I used to work with.

Steynberg: What were the threats?

Witness: They warned me that if we did not vote for ODM, we would face dire consequences.

Steynberg: What do you mean by “we”? Who are you referring to when you say “we”?

Witness: The Kikuyu

In an emotional narrative, the witness recounted how she and some of her family members fled their home and sought refuge at the church on New Year’s Eve following the threats and attacks on the Kikuyu at Kimuri area.

At the church, the witness found hundreds of other families seeking refuge there.

She said there were about 1,800, and were mainly Kikuyus from the surrounding villages.

The witness, who spoke through an interpreter, recounted how Kalenjin youths numbering close to 1,000 attacked the church from different directions that fateful morning.

“They were about 1,000, they were singing as they approached the church,” she said.

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