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ICC Presiding judge Osuji missed no chance to challenge Sang's lawyer's arguments

By Nzau Musau | January 14th 2016
presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji

THE HAGUE: Nothing appeared to pass the ear of presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji Wednesday as Deputy President William Ruto's co-accused Joshua arap Sang took the stand to plead for the case to be dismissed on grounds that it lacks merit.

The Nigerian judge, in his thick-rimmed spectacles, was at his best as a judge-in-charge: attentive, firm, cautioning, staring and almost assuming the role of the classical 'grand inquisitor'.

His two colleagues; Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr, did not talk back to the defence. They, however, made their concerns known through Judge Eboe-Esuji.

When Mr Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen pleaded that the burden of 2008 violence should not be placed on his client on account that the same had before occurred in Kenya in 1992, 1997, and could as well occur again in future, Osuji cut him short.

"Does the recurrence of the violence serve a normalisation role or does it serve to warn politicians and other groups to be careful on what they say? Which value does it serve?" he posed to Mr Kigen.

Kigen had also cited utterances of US presidential election's front runner Donald Trump on Hispanics being rapists and drug dealers to illustrate that if indeed Sang' uttered words against Kikuyu's they could as well fit into area of democratic free speech that ought to be celebrated rather than condemned.

In answering the judge, Kigen said he was merely contextualising the violence and building on the argument that the violence was spontaneous, and that the violence rested on institutional and historical issues.

"The prosecution of my client will not solve those underlying issues, and now that I can see that this history weighs in on your mind..." said Kigen.

The judge intercepted: "No, no, it's not about it resting in our minds, you raised this yourself..."

He also doubted that Trump's statements would compare to Sang's alleged ones in terms of quality, content and context.

When Kigen insisted on differentiation between the words "advertisement" and "announcement", the bespectacled judge wondered: "What's the productive value of the distinction between the two?"

He wouldn't let the lawyer get away with his plea that a prosecution failure to prove existence of network through which Sang' could contribute to the violence would invalidate the case.

"Must we find a network to prove commission of crimes against humanity?" he posed, and while Kigen insisted in the affirmative, he created scenarios, aiming to water down Kigen's argument.

The hearings continue today with Deputy President William Ruto's lawyers expected to take the stand.

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