Ruto team allowed to challenge ICC case

Forty two witnesses have been lined up to testify against Deputy President William Ruto when his case opens at the International Criminal Court in The Hague next month.

Ms Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, had initially planned to call 46 witnesses and use 413 hours to build her case against Mr Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. However, four witnesses have withdrawn their testimony while the court has described the hours sought by Ms Bensouda as “excessive”.

Mr Ruto and Mr Sang face crimes against humanity charges over the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

Some 1,133 Kenyans were killed and more than 500,000 uprooted from their homes in the chaos that ensued after the presidential election results were disputed.

Incumbent Mwai Kibaki of the PNU was declared winner but ODM’s Raila Odinga, his key challenger, cried foul saying the vote had been stolen.

Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, who were on the ODM side, are said to have incited, financed and executed the chaos.

Their case opens on September 10 at The Hague in the Netherlands. Mr Ruto will be required to be present in court when the prosecutor makes her opening statements.

Also facing similar charges is President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was on the PNU side and whose case opens on November 12.

The three judges hearing Mr Ruto’s case have allowed his lawyers to move a motion of “no-case-to answer” once Ms Bensouda concludes her submissions.

No case to answer

“The Chamber will, in principle, permit the defence to enter submissions, at the close of the case for the prosecution, asserting that there is no case for it to answer at the end of the prosecution’s presentation of evidence,” the judges said in their latest verdict dated August 9 but sent to the Nation on Monday.

Trial Chamber judges Chile Oboe-Osuji, Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr said they would give reasons for inviting Mr Ruto’s lawyers to make the submissions seeking to end the case.

They also said that Mr Ruto and Mr Sang would be given the opportunity to give their personal statements before the court.

The judges also provided for the possibility of visiting one of the post-election hotspots should any of the parties in the case make a request for such a visit.

“As a result of subsequent changes, there are currently 42 witnesses whom the prosecution intends to call. The Chamber is of the view that the prosecution’s estimates appear excessive.

“At the next status conference to be held, the Chamber will seek the parties’ and participants’ views on this issue, with a view to reducing the prosecution’s estimates,” the judges said.

They said opening statements by the prosecution, defence and lawyers for victims would each take two hours although legal teams for Mr Ruto and Mr Sang have been asked to agree on how they will utilise their time, including making provision for their clients to give personal statements.

“The Ruto defence and Sang defence may choose to re-distribute the combined time allowed for defence opening statements and allocate the time amongst themselves as they see fit. Any statements from the accused persons should be made within the allotted time,” they said.

By BERNARD NAMUNANE

-nation.co.ke

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