By Nzau Musau,
Investigators believe the land case could be relevant to its prosecution of Ruto for crimes against humanity under the Rome statute. "The prosecution case against Ruto is for murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution," Florence Olara, spokesperson for the ICC's Chief Prosecutor, said. She neither confirmed nor denied the ICC's interest in the land.
ICC overall spokesman Fadi Abdallah declined to comment insisting that it fell within the "interest of the prosecution" and therefore only the prosecution could respond. IDP Adrian Muteshi went to court in 2010 accusing the MP of grabbing his 100 acre piece of land in Turbo, Uasin Gishu district. He has told the High Court that he was forced to abandon the land after chaos broke out in 2007 and found it occupied by Ruto when he went back.
Muteshi acquired a title deed for the land in 1989. In 1992 he also left the land following ethnic clashes but went back to farm on it until 2007. In early February, the lawyer of Eldoret North MP William Ruto said he wanted to surrender the 100 acres of land back to Muteshi. Lawyer Katwa Kigen told the High Court on Wednesday that Ruto wanted a settlement because the Ministry of Lands had decided that the title deed was not properly processed.
He added that the MP would then pursue Dorothy Yator who sold him the property. The hearing of the case was deferred on Wednesday to allow the lawyers representing Mr Muteshi and the MP discuss the terms of settlement. Lady Justice Rose Ougo gave the parties until March 5 to discuss and come up with a settlement. Under the Rome statute, the crime of forceful transfer of persons should include forceful transfer of "one or more persons" to another location by expulsion or other coercive acts. Such persons must have been lawfully in the area.
In the document used at the confirmation of charges hearing last October, the prosecution accused Ruto of forcible transfer of population in locations including Turbo town, the greater Eldoret area (Huruma, Kiambaa, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi), Kapsabet town and Nandi Hills town in the Uasin Gishu and Nandi districts.
Olara also referred the Star to the prosecution's application for summons filed on December 15th, 2010 and on whose basis Ruto alongside journalist Joshua Sang, deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and former head of civil service Francis Muthaura are being charged at the ICC. "This is not the first time that the MP has been accused of grabbing, or fraudulently obtaining land in the country. In April 2011, the Courts let him off the hook because of a failure by the Prosecution to call the key witnesses in the Kenya Pipeline land saga," the International Centre for Policy and Conflict said in a statement posted on its website this week.
The ICPC said it intended to write to the DPP asking him to charge Ruto over the matter. "It looks like the chaos were meant to forcefully drive out people from their lands. Otherwise, why did he have to wait for the rightful owner to be driven out before acquiring it? If he meant to legally acquire it, he ought to have carried out a search at the Ministry of Lands to determine the rightful owner," ICPC says. ICPC boss Ndung'u Wainaina said that Ruto's admission also contravenes chapter six of constitution on leadership and integrity "which is unacceptable for a person who has intentions of leading a country."