ICC Prosecutor Bensouda,locks horns with DP Ruto
The Prosecution at The Hague has locked horns with Deputy President William Ruto over the date the latter is expected to respond to the formers request for excusal from attendance at trial.
In what is likely to be an indication that International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda intends to oppose the request, the Gambian born prosecutor has asked the judges to be allowed more time to respond to the defence plea.
Ms Bensouda requested the judges to be allowed to respond to the request on 13 January, which is the same day the trials against Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang are scheduled to resume.
“The Prosecution respectfully requests an extension of the time limit to file its response to the Defence’s 16 December 2013 request to excuse Mr Ruto from attendance at trial, such that the response would be due on 13 January 2014,” said Bensouda in an application dated Wednesday.
The judges had directed the parties to respond to the Ruto request by latest 7 January next year. But Ruto through his lead Counsel Karim Khan vehemently opposed the request insisting that the prosecution has failed to show good cause for the requested six days.
Khan maintained that granting the request will prejudice the deputy head of state by requiring him to travel to attend trial when the excusal request might be granted.
“Trial proceedings are scheduled to resume on the day the Prosecution propose to file the response. There is, thus, a risk that Mr. Ruto might be required to undertake unnecessary travel,” argued the British Lawyer. “The defence emphasises that the excusal request is not being made for Mr.
Ruto’s personal convenience but, rather, so that he can perform his extraordinary public duties,” In her submission to the bench, Bensouda gave three reasons for requesting for additional time. In reference to the amendments recently made at the Assembly of State Parties (ASP), Bensouda said that the defence request engages new issues before the Court.
“Good cause exists for a six day extension – from 7 January until 13 January 2014 – because: (i) The defence’s request engages novel issues before this Court; (ii) Certain Prosecution staff are unavailable over the judicial recess to work on the response; and (iii) Granting the requested extension will enable the Prosecution to make more concise and targeted submissions to assist the Chamber,” she said.
But Khan rebutted her submissions insisting that the excusal request have not only been extensivelylitigated at the Trial Chamber and Appeals Chamber levels.
He also maintained that the wording of a rule which was comprehensively debated during the ASP is plain.
“The Prosecution’s claims that the excusal request “engages novel issues” and granting the extension will enable it to make “more concise and targeted submissions” must, therefore, be viewed against this background,” Khan told the three judge bench.
Last month, states amended Article 134 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence by that allowed the use of video technology and excusal from physical attendance.