The privilege of watching  court proceedings is that it empowers viewers to make judgment ,for you get to see more things than those present at the venue .This observation has made after following the ICC proceedings being aired on television.

Television or Audio Visual creates an eerie form of objectivity and neutrality that is essential when judging .Secondly it gives an over-arching view of the courtroom and thus you can view not just the judges and witnesses but also the counsel .

For example if you are in a bank that had cameras and thieves came in , you will only give evidence as per what you saw .But someone who was at the control room watching the TV screen would have seen how the thieves entered and where they went and what they did. Hence Television is aids in Multi vision.

Yesterday , Peter Otieno from Naivasha took the witness stand to testify on behalf of former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali who has been charged with giving Mungiki a free zone to attack Non Kikuyu and also charges of rape .

Yet apart from dissecting Peter Otieno’s evidence or oral testimony , there are interesting notes to mention about his body language :

1. He would not talk directly into the microphone despite many calls from the court to do so.

2.He would not face the judges and had a nagging habit of just looking at the  defence counsel asking him the questions

Now the Prosecution caught him off guard when they asked whetehr he had met the Defence Counsel .He said  he did and not just once .

From his oral testimony you find some words he used were so “coached” and the questioning of the defence counsel made it worse by asking leading questions.

Leading questions are questions that have the answer before the other party answers. It is a form of questioning that gives the answer to the one answering.As far as we know that ceases to be a question.

Such a scenario means the witness could have been told what to say and hence it is not his testimony.

Of course , for Mr Otieno , it is true that he was saved form a murderous mob in Naivasha and noone can deny the pain of that moment.Our concern is that body language is part of testimony.

When you move away from microphones , refuse to see eye to eye , then someone will be more likely to question what you are saying.Of course there is a benefit of doubt that maybe your are nervous and shy but yet confident testimony strengthens your evidence and hence case.

Interesting enough Mr Otieno has testified at other judicial commissions .Surely how would Hague be intimidating other than it being in another continent ?

This is just similar to what is happeing in teh Kenyan Media .The Media is sometimes guilty of “coaching ” their interviewees , that is making them say something the Media house wants.

One nabs these people just by speech . For example one man was speaking in Swahili all through the interview and mentioned some hard environmental term in English . One would wonder how he knew that word when he could not speak in plain English.

I may be wrong but could that be a sign that he was told to say not what he thought but what the Media station wants ?

This issue of Body Language affecting speech did not just apply to Mr Otieno.

When Mr Lewis Nguyai was asked hot questions about Mungiki by the prosecution  , he would move up and down, readjusting his sitting position or would delay giving a straight answer.

For Uhuru Kenyatta his body language was almost picture perfect with him actually attacking Mr Ocampo’s command of English , thus making him look weak .

Yet if you keenly watch when he was asked whether he was part of Mungiki , he nodded his head slowly but vigorously.

It reminded us of Bill Clinton;s body language who shook his head and hand when he denied that he had NO sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.He later on admitted guilt.

Body Language  should not be the 100% standard of measuring whether someone is telling the truth .But it does play a significant role in strengthening the testimony , for the truth and not body movement is what the courts are looking for, yet body movement can dilute the truth of your statements .

Arthur Owiti

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