Fatou Bensouda to appeal against decision to excuse William Ruto from ICC trial

The International Criminal Court prosecution has applied for leave to appeal against a decision by Trial Chamber V to excuse Deputy President William Ruto from continuous presence during his trial.

In the application, Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants Ruto to be present throughout the trial.

Bensouda based her application on two fundamental issues; whether the Trial Chamber had discretionary power to excuse an accused from attending most of thetrial and whether the test for an excusal of the accused developed by the Majority is supported by ICC law.

She argues that the two issues raised affect the fair conduct of the proceedings and the expeditious conduct of the proceedings because they raise the question whether an individual accused of very serious crimes holding certain official functions may be excused from continuous presence at the trial, while others are not

“In this case, the Majority ruled that Mr Ruto was excused from his continuous presence at the trialbecause he holds the “office of the executive vice president of a State”. This does not apply to Mr Ruto’s co-accused, Mr Sang, who accordingly would not be entitled to the same treatment under the law,” Bensouda said in her argument.

She added that if the trial is conducted largely in the absence of Ruto, then the two issues are likely to be raised as part of an appeal against a decision of acquittal or conviction pursuant to Article 81.

This, she said, would lead to nullification of the entiretrial proceedings which would have to be repeated if the Appeals Chamber finds that the accused ought to have been present during the bulk of the trial.

“This will significantly delay the overall determination of responsibility of Ruto,” Bensouda said.

Trial Chamber V had excused Ruto from trial except the opening and closing statements of all parties and participants and when victims present their views and concerns in person during the trial.

He is also required to be present during the delivery of judgment in the case and, if applicable, sentencing and reparations and any other attendance that may be ordered by the Chamber.-standardmedia.co.ke

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