ICC judges have set the stage for trial of four Kenyans accused at the court by ordering prosecutor to update his charges by August 6. The judges who are set to announce the trial date by Friday this week asked prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to serve the suspects with an updated "document containing charges" reflective of the January confirmation decision.
The new document will only feature the accused- deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta, former cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura, Eldoret North MP William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang. It must leave out former minister Henry Kosgey and former police boss Hussein Ali both whose charges were not confirmed. "The Chamber directs the prosecution to provide the defence with a draft updated DCC by 6 August 2012. Thereafter, both parties are to liaise with a view to resolving any areas of disagreement as to the whether the draft updated DCC properly reflects the Confirmation Decision," judge Kuniko Ozaki said.
Ozaki directed the Bensouda to file the final DCC by August 21 after consultation with the defence. She said any disagreement on the matter should be filed alongside the DCC for the judges determination. The move by the judges sets the stage for the naming of trial dates, which as promised by Ozaki must be before the start of the court's summer judicial recess which is Friday. The tight deadlines given by Ozaki are suggestive of an earlier trial date.
Article 67(1 )(a) of the Statute provides that an accused is entitled to be informed promptly and in detail the cause and content of the charges against him. Article 64(8) (a) also required the trial chamber to read to the accused at the start of trial the charges previously confirmed. This is provided so that the accused can either make an admission of guilt or to plead not guilty. It also helps the chamber to ascertain if the accused understands the charges against him.
According to Ozaki, the new DCC is to contain references to the relevant paragraphs of the Confirmation Decision. It should not not include any facts rejected by the Pre-Trial Chamber in the Confirmation Decision. "In preparing its updated DCC, the prosecution is to clearly indicate the material facts and circumstances underlying the charges as confirmed," Ozaki said. She added: "In this connection, the prosecution should have particular regard for the entitlement of the accused to be informed of "the facts and circumstances in terms of times and locations and also, as far as possible, the precise numbers and identities of the victims and the means employed to commit the crimes."
Most of the suspects as well as the prosecution prefer a March 2013 trial date. Muthaura however wants his trial to start in September. When a March 2013 date was suggested at the status conference, Ozaki expressed surprise and said that this is not what the judges had expected. "I have to confess that this time frame is not as early as we (Trial Chamber V) anticipated," Judge Ozaki said on the first day of the status conference on June 11.