Soon after the first prosecution witness testified at the ICC on the hearing of Deputy President William Ruto’s case, photos and names that alleged to reveal the identity of the witness PO536 went viral. This is despite ICC efforts to protect the witness by blurring her image and distorting her voice.
27 year old Rahab Muthoni Kagiri, a resident of Burnt Forest in Eldoret who confesses that she is a victim of the 2007 after poll clashes, has soon after come out publicly to refute the allegations that she was the witness testifying against Ruto in the ICC.
“the photo circulating on social media is mine but the names below it are not mine,” She says.
She claims the photograph was lifted from her Facebook page and only learnt about the news of the allegations facing her through friends and family. She has so far recorded a statement at a police station in Eldoret and wants the matter investigated.
This revelation comes amid a warning from the presiding judge Eboe-Osuji that the court would take action against anyone interfering with the witnesses.
“Any revelation of the identity of a witness who has been protected by the court amounts to an offence against the court. Let any Kenyan, members of the press, social media users and participants be warned that any action that may lead to the revelation or attempt to reveal the identity of a witness will be investigated and prosecuted,” warned judge Eboe-Osuji.
Increasing concerns over the protection of witnesses at the height of an unprecedented massive withdrawal of prosecution witnesses, prompted prosecution lawyer Anton Steynberg to apply for increased witness protection which gives room for testifying in camera.
Even with its benefits, the social media has its failings as well and has in the recent past locally made life unbearable to some Kenyans whose actions have landed them on the receiving end of cyber bashing and intimidation.
In Rahab’s case, the circulation of the images on social media alleging to be the same witness who testified at the ICC when she is still stuck at a village here in the country, could have a toll in her social family and even put her life in danger.