ICC allows William Ruto, Joshua Sang to make ‘No case to answer’ submissions

Deputy President William Ruto (left), his wife Rachel and journalist Joshua Sang at the ICC in the past.

Nairobi, Kenya: The International Criminal Court (ICC) is now preparing for the closure of the prosecution’s case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang.

The Trial Chamber V (a) has now explained that the two will be allowed to apply for their acquittal as soon as the prosecution calls and winds up with their last witness.

The trial judges accepted submissions by the prosecution and the defence that the accused should be allowed to make submissions on a no-case to answer, as soon as the prosecution closes their case.

Submissions on a no-case to answer in criminal proceedings are made by an accused asking the court to acquit him without putting him on his defence.

The principle behind it is that if the prosecution has not adduced enough evidence worth convicting an accused person after calling all the witnesses, the accused should not be asked to defend himself but should be acquitted forthwith.

It’s based on the right of the accused to be presumed innocent till proven guilty.

If the court rules that one has no case top answer, it acquits him without further proceedings. But if it determines that one has a case to answer, then the accused is asked to call his witnesses.

Last year, the Chamber asked all the parties in the Ruto and Sang case to file submissions on whether similar procedure should be followed as it’s not expressly provided for in the Rome Statute and the ICC Rules.

 The same was not provided at the confirmation stage.

The parties filed the submissions on July 3, 2013. They argued that it would promote trial efficiency and secure the rights of the accused.

Ruto argued that the Chamber should hear him on why he should not be put on his defence.

He had argued that the submissions should be made at the close of the prosecution case or at any point thereafter and the issue could even be raised by the Chamber on its own.

Sang’s defence also argued that presenting the motion would ensure right to be tried without undue delay and without wasting courts time and it did not prejudice any party.

Tuesday, the judges explained that allowing the accused to submit on a no-case to answer would ensure the trial is conducted in a manner that respects the rights of the accused and protects the victims and the witnesses.

“The Chamber finds that the test to be applied in determining a 'no case to answer' motion, if any, in this case is whether there is evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict. In conducting this analysis, each count in the Document Containing the Charges will be considered separately and, for each count, it is only necessary to satisfy the test in respect of one mode of liability,” the judges ruled.

The ruling closes a legal debate as to whether the accused were found with a case to answer at the Pre-Trial stage or whether that determination is yet to be made. Both Ruto and Sang have lined up their witnesses should they be required to present their case.