International Criminal Court forced to adjourn over witnesses hitch

Deputy President William Ruto and radio Journalist Joshua Sang at the International Criminal Court during their trial opening.

By Standard Reporter

The Hague, Netherlands: The trial of Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang at The Hague-based court will take a brief break after Wednesday’s session.

This is after the prosecution said it was not prepared to call its first witness. The first witness will not take the stand until Tuesday next week.

The witness who was not disclosed, would have began giving his evidence today but the prosecution told the court that he was still on the way to The Hague.

The prosecution explained that the witness was travelling and would get to The Hague on Thursday.  He would then be put on the witness stand on Tuesday, since Monday will be a public holiday for the court.

This will be one of the 22 witnesses who the prosecution has lined up and who they have been attempting to safeguard to avoid having their identity and locations disclosed.

The hearings resume Wednesday with the opening statement of Mr Sang’s Defence Counsel, Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa.

Brief break

Thereafter, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take a brief break to continue next Tuesday, when sessions will run until October 4.

Another session will begin from October 14 to November 1.

In The Hague courtroom yesterday, Ruto’s lawyer Karim Khan said: “As this case unravels, witnesses are not here, they have withdrawn. The case will be adjourned tomorrow until Tuesday for want of prosecution witnesses. I don’t want your honours or anybody in this courtroom or watching, to be under any illusion why those witnesses have withdrawn or dropped or don’t come.”

“There is a rotten underbelly in this case which the prosecutor has swallowed hook, line and sinker, indifferent to the truth all too eager to latch on to any account, any version, any story that somehow tips the box in relation to putting forward a summons or a confirmation hearing. No semblance to reality at all,” said Khan.

“The hearings in this trial are not scheduled to overlap with those in the second trial related to investigations in Kenya, The Prosecutor vs Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, which is to open on November 12, 2013,” the ICC said in a statement released last evening.

Instead, the two trials will be scheduled to alternate in periods of a minimum of four weeks.

President Uhuru had cautioned that the ICC should not make it difficult for them to run government while cooperating with the court.

“Detailed hearing schedules in the cases will be issued by ICC judges in due course,” added the ICC statement.

The trial in the Ruto and Sang case is expected to take several months. During the first part, the Office of the Prosecutor will be presenting the evidence at the prosecution’s disposal, submitting to the attention of the judges a large number of documents, which it has compiled in the case, as well as video footage.