ICC convenes status conference over DP William Ruto’s request to skip trial sessions


Nairobi, Kenya: The International Criminal Court ( ICC) will Wednesday hold a status conference to discuss Deputy President William Ruto’s application seeking excusal from continuous physical presence during his trial.

However, Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Arap Sang will not be required in court during the 2.30pm (Hague time) status conference. But the two accused of crimes against humanity at the international court, are expected in court on January 16 when their case is set to resume. The defence counsel and the prosecutor have until Wednesday 11am to make their submissions regarding the status. Ruto submitted his application for excusal from constant appearance at the court after the 12th Session of the Assembly of States Parties passed a rule allowing persons holding senior government positions to be tried in absentia. Although Trial Chamber V (a) has not issued a full decision on the request, it ordered Ruto to continue being present until a verdict is made. Ruto was supposed to resume his trial on Monday but it was postponed to January 16 by the court. Last week, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda urged the judges to reject the application which she said amounts to blanket excusal. She also said if Ruto is granted the application, it will contradict principles of equality of all accused persons during trial. State duties Bensouda further termed Ruto’s applications for excusal as flimsy. She explained that not all duties that Ruto undertakes as the Deputy President amount to extraordinary functions.

She for example said that receiving dignitaries and opening roads are not extraordinary duties and advised that Ruto can delegate some duties to other competent leaders to ensure he is present in court. The case against Ruto and Sang has been adjourned three times over late presentation of prosecution witnesses with the latest being this month.

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December last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta received an early gift for Christmas after ICC Prosecutor admitted that she has no evidence to sustain a trial against him.   Kenyatta’s trial was scheduled to start on February 5, 2014 after being adjourned for lack of prosecution witnesses. Bensouda, who accuses Kenyatta of crimes against humanity following the 2007/08 bloodshed, through a statement said that she had no sufficient evidence to uphold the trial against the Kenyan Head of State at The Hague. While seeking an adjournment of the case indefinitely, Bensouda said that she needed time to obtain more proof that Kenyatta committed the atrocities she is accusing him of after her witnesses withdrew from the case.

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