Top Stories / National
Wednesday, 05 Oct 2016 15:23 EATjackieasmisi94@gmail.com
Human rights activist activist Boniface Mwangi will not apologise to deputy president William Ruto for tweeting his fears that the DP was plotting to kill him. The activist has said he will not withdraw the statement in his controversial tweet and dared the DP to take legal action as had been threatened by the DP's lawyers.
In a reply to a letter by Mr Ruto's lawyer Kioko Kilukumi demanding Mr Mwangi's apology, lawyer Gitobu Imanyara asks the deputy president to be prepared to prove in court that he's not capable of killing Mr Mwangi as the activist expressed in his tweet. Mr Imanyara's letter that was circulated by Mr Mwangi on his Facebook page this afternoon promises a court battle with the deputy president, whom Mr Imanyara claims "has no reputation" worth tarnishing by Mr Mwangi's tweet.
Mr Imanyara, who is a human rights lawyer and politician, says in the letter that Mr Mwangi has "very real and compelling reasons" for fearing that the deputy president may cause his death. Essentially, the lawyer says it is Mr Ruto himself who should prove that he's not a killer. “The burden of proof in these circumstances will rest squarely upon your client to show up in court and clearly demonstrate that the fear by our client is not well founded,” he wrote.
It is unlikely the matter will end up in court given the huge political and personal stakes that would be involved in the case for the deputy president. In Kenya's political tradition, the demand letter by Mr Ruto's lawyers should have shut up Mr Mwangi, or triggered a behind-the-scenes compromise. But Mr Mwangi is known for his dare devil persona and was not the type to back down on his tweets.
It is now up to Mr Ruto to decide whether a leader of his stature would not wish, irrespective of his chance of winning, to litigate on an issue that would open old wounds in his political career such as allegations that he masterminded violence in the Rift Valley in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.
Mr Imanyara states that his client will seek to use evidence tabled at the International Criminal Court, which never went into trial stage after the Court terminated Mr Ruto's case, to prove the charges levelled by his client. “If need be our client will call witnesses to testify that they believe and perceive your client to have been involved in corrupt practices including land grabbing and that It is a matter of public notoriety that Ruto was indicted at the International Criminal Court at The Hague over some grave crimes including murder," he said in the letter.
The letter added, "It is a grave matter of public record also, that the charges, or at least some of the charges were confirmed and your client was ordered to stand trial but that trial was terminated while your client was on bail for reasons well known to your client and which reasons include documented disappearances and extra judicial killings of witnesses and potential witnesses.
Mr Imanyara said in the letter that his client will be happy to meet the deputy president in court "if and when this ill motivated attempt to silence him comes to court," as Mr Ruto's lawyer Kilukumi had threatened in his letter demanding Mr Mwangi's apology or withdrawal of the statements he made in the tweet.
Below is the full letter as released by Mr Mwangi on his Facebook page
Dear Mr Kilukumi,
Re: Alleged Libelous tweet and DP Ruto’s threat to sue Boniface Mwangi
We refer to your letter dated 30th September 2016 bearing reference KK/GEN/DP/006/2016 addressed to our client Boniface Mwangi in which you give notice that unless our client publishes an immediate retraction, correction and apology to Deputy President William Ruto over a tweet allegedly published on 28th September under our client’s twitter handle you would institute proceedings for recovery of damages, and other remedies, for your client.
You have reproduced details of the tweet in your said letter.
Our instructions are that for reasons set out below our client will not retract, correct, withdraw or apologize for the said tweet.
Your client is the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, a State Office to which he is accountable to the people of Kenya. As long as he holds that office he must accept that he will attract and continue to attract not only praise where it is due but also most robust criticism for any conduct or behavior that falls below the requirements of the Leadership and Integrity provisions set out in Chapter VI of the Constitution.
All Kenyans are duty bound to protect and preserve the Constitution and the members of the press have an even higher duty in this regard.
Boniface Mwangi is not only a journalist but a human rights and public interest defender who has bravely and courageously fought for the preservation of our constitutional values and bringing to account leaders who do not live by their oaths of office. He has been subjected to death threats, torture, malicious prosecution and countless intimidations all geared to silence him. He sees the threat contained in your letter as falling in this category of harassment.
Your client appears to have singled him out because of his consistent defence of the public interest and he is not surprised by this.
The tweet your client is complaining of simply expresses his fears. He says: “I hope Deputy President has no plans of killing me the way he killed his old friend, Jacob Juma a fellow thief who became a whistle blower”
Is it not true that Jacob Juma was killed?
Is it not true that Hon Cyrus Jirongo, a close friend at one time of both the late Jacob Juma and your client pointed fingers at your client in connection with Jacob Juma’s death?
Is it not true that Jacob Juma was a one time friend of William Ruto?
Is it not true that when Jacob Juma fell out with William Ruto he became a whistle blower?
Is it not true that prior to his death Jacob Juma publicly disclosed that William Ruto was planning to kill him?
Is it not true that on account of the late Jacob Juma’s publicly expressed fears, William Ruto is a prime suspect in the ongoing investigations into the death of Jacob Juma?
Is it not true that your client’s notice of intention to sue our client is an ill motivated attempt either to forestall or impede the investigation of Jacob Juma’s claims by a contrived excuse that the matter is in court?
Our client has very real and compelling reasons for fearing that your client may wish to kill him and he reserves his right to disclose these in court should the need arise. The burden of proof in these circumstances will rest squarely upon your client to show up in court and clearly demonstrate that the fear by our client is not well founded.
It is a matter of public notoriety that your client was indicted at the International Criminal Court at The Hague over some grave crimes including murder. It is a grave matter of public record also, that the charges, or at least some of the charges were confirmed and your client was ordered to stand trial but that trial was terminated while your client was on bail for reasons well known to your client and which reasons include documented disappearances and extra judicial killings of witnesses and potential witnesses.
Because the ICC is part of the Kenyan judicial system by virtue of the legislation that domesticated the Rome Statute, our client will, if necessary and in his defence, seek leave of the court to produce those proceedings in the Kenya courts. Our client will then subject your client to robust cross examination which he, your client, was not subjected to by virtue of the termination of the case at The Hague, to show why he harbours these well founded fears that your client may want to silence him by having him killed, as Jacob Juma was.
Your client claims that his reputation has been injured and seeks the Kenyan court to intervene and give him protection and damages. Our client will seek to persuade the court that that he has no reputation worthy of the indulgence of a court of justice either in Kenya or elsewhere. If need be our client will call witnesses to testify that they believe and perceive your client to have been involved in corrupt practices including land grabbing.
Our client welcomes the opportunity to meet yours in court if and when this ill motivated attempt to silence him comes to court, as threatened in your letter.
We have, in the circumstances, instructions to accept service of process on behalf of our client and also to file a counterclaim against your client arising out of an internationally broadcast television interview in which your client defamed and ridiculed our client and sought to portray him as a drunkard who spends the night drinking and wakes up at 11a.m and is an unworthy citizen of the Republic of Kenya.
Be advised accordingly.
For Gitobu Imanyara & Co
The writer is a student of communication and journalism at Moi University and intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.