William Ruto can skip next week’s crucial ICC court session, says lawyer

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court at The Hague in January this year. [PHOTO/FILE]
Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang are not required in court on April 5 for a ruling on their application to have their case dismissed.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) exempted them from being physically present when the ruling will be read on whether or not they have a case to answer in relation to the 2007-2008 polls chaos.

Sang’s Lawyer Katwa Kigen confirmed that Trial Chamber V judges Chile Eboe-Osuji, Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr agreed to have the ruling read in the absence of the two accused.

Speaking to The Standard on Saturday yesterday, Kigen said: “We did not ask the court to exempt my client but the court only asked us if it could be convenient to have the two in court in person.”

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The ICC had notified Ruto and former radio journalist Sang on Tuesday this week that the court would be pronouncing its finding on their application on the no-case-to-answer motion and that they ought to be present.

The DP is reported to have asked to be exempted as he will be standing in for President Uhuru Kenyatta who will be away in France.

Acquittal or trial

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Kigen said their plea to the judges is that they should find that the prosecutor failed to sustain claims against the two accused persons.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda closed her case against the DP and Sang on September 10 last year, opening the floor for the two to discredit her arguments in relation to the 2007 post-election violence.

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The DP and the former radio journalist are faced with two possibilities – acquittal or full trial. The effect of a successful no-case-to-answer motion is either the acquittal of the accused on all or some of the charges. On the contrary, if the motion does not go the DP’s way, even on partial judgment of acquittal, it would mean judges are satisfied he has a case to answer, giving way to the next stage of trial for the defence to argue its case.

Ruto’s lead lawyer Karim Khan raised five grounds faulting the prosecution’s approach to the case; ranging from investigations that he argued were not properly carried out, to alleged use of unreliable witnesses, who he contends did not place Ruto anywhere near where the crimes were committed.

The defence argued the prosecution had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove existence of a criminal network that is central to the charges of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution against Ruto.

The Office of the Prosecutor built its case around claims that Ruto was the head of a multi-faceted network with a common plan to expel supporters of the Party of National Unity (PNU) from the Rift Valley region and gain power by creating a uniform Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) voting bloc. Four other Kenyans who were implicated at the ICC were released on grounds of lack of sufficient evidence to sustain the prosecution charges against them. The ICC first set free former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Boss Hussein Ali, former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgei and finally President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Deputy President William Rutojoshua arap sangInternational Criminal Court (ICC)