President Kenyatta ICC trial to open November 12
President Kenyatta’s trial at the International Criminal Court will now begin on November 12.
The ICC judges Thursday said the decision to set a new trial was meant to give President Kenyatta’s defence “adequate time to prepare its case”.
Initially, the case was scheduled to open on July 9.
“On 26 April 2013, the Trial Chamber determined that the Defence should be granted additional time to prepare for trial due to the delays by the Prosecution in disclosing its evidence. The Trial Chamber invited the Defence to submit observations as to the estimated time it needed to adequately prepare for trial,” the Trial Chamber V(B) judges said in a statement.
“After receiving these observations, and responses from the Prosecution and the Legal Representative of Victims, the Judges decided to formally vacate the 9 July 2013 date scheduled for the trial’s opening. The new date was set taking into account the Defence’s need for adequate time to prepare its case as well as scheduling and logistical considerations,” the chamber said.
The Chamber said it would have set an October date but for logistical and scheduling constraints.
“The Chamber would in principle set the date of commencement of the trial for early October 2013. However, scheduling conflicts, logistical and other constraints, including availability of courtrooms, arising from the other ongoing cases before the Court prevent the Chamber from setting this date and necessitate a further delay of approximately one month before trial can commence,” the judges said.
The chamber is yet to rule on President Kenyatta’s request to be allowed to attend his trial through video link.
The judges’ decision is a triumph of sorts for President Kenyatta. Although his defence team had requested that the trial start date be pushed to January 2014, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opposed the attempt.
She argued that even if the judges found merit in the request by the President’s legal team, the new date should not go beyond September.
“The adjournment submission fails to demonstrate that the requested delay is warranted. The defence fails to provide a justification for such a lengthy postponement. At most, the Adjournment Submission provides a basis for an incremental delay in the trial schedule — weeks, not months,” she stated.
President Kenyatta is charged, as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of crimes against humanity consisting of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during the post-election violence in 2007/2008.
The other Kenyan case facing Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang will begin on September 10.
On Tuesday, the Trial Chamber V excused Mr Ruto from attending some court sessions citing his state duties as Deputy President.
However, the judges ruled that Mr Ruto must attend key sessions including the opening and closing statements of all the parties, when victims testify and when the court delivers its judgment.
“Today, 18 June 2013, Trial Chamber V (A) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) conditionally granted, by majority, the request of William Samoei Ruto to be excused from being physically present continuously throughout the trial, scheduled to start on 10 September 2013,” statement from the ICC said.
“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,” the ruling by the ICC judges said.
However, the Trial chamber judges warned that they could still revoke the reprieve if the accused fails to adhere to the instructions that accompany the conditional excuse from The Hague.
“The Trial Chamber retains judicial control over the accused during the entirety of the proceedings and violations of any of these conditions may result in the revocation of the excusal and/or the issuance of an arrest warrant as appropriate,” the judges, by majority ruled, according to the statement.-nation.co.ke