DEPUTY President William Ruto has narrowly missed an opportunity to have his ICC case held in Kenya or Tanzania. ICC judges missed the two-third threshold for bringing the trials to Nairobi by a mere one vote.
Nine of the 14 judges who voted wanted the trial held in Nairobi. Five rejected Nairobi citing a raft of reasons. The nine in favour of Nairobi were court first vice president Sanji Mongeng (Botswana), Kenya's Joyce Aluoch, Akua Kuenyehia (Ghana), Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria), Erkki Koumla (Finland), Ekaterina Trendafilova (Bulgaria), Kuniko Ozaki (Japan), Olga Herrera Carbuccia (Dominican Republic) and Robert Fremr (Czech Republic).
Those who rejected Kenya included Hans Peter Kaul, the German judge who had refused to admit the cases in the first place, the court's president Sang-Hyun Song, second vice president Cuno Tarfusser (Italy), Anita Usacka (Latvia) and Silvia Alejandra Fernández de Gurmendi (Argentina).
Arusha was lost on a similar vote: Nine judges were for Arusha while four were against. One abstained. "It is highly to be regretted that the votes of five judges (including that of the President of the Court), who did not vote in favour of either of the altemative recommendations, were able to deny the two-thirds majority--the 10 votes--actually needed to approve the recommendation," Eboe-Osuji said yesterday.
Those for Nairobi or Arusha wanted justice closer to the affected communities, to dispel criticism of ICC being foreign to Africa among other reasons, while those against cited security concerns, costs and politicisation of the cases. In principle however, all judges were for either Nairobi or Arusha. Ruto and his co-accused, radio journalist Joshua Sang', had made the request to move the trial to either Arusha or Nairobi on January 24.
Yesterday, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she is not opposed to Ruto's application to stagger his Hague trial on a two-weeks-on-two-weeks-off basis.
She however wants the period stretched to three weeks to allow at least two witnesses conclude their testimonies prior to the breaks. Sang's defence had also rooted for three weeks sessions. Their trial starts on September 10.
Last week, Ruto applied to have the case heard on two-weeks-on-two-weeks-off basis after the appeals chamber ordered him to attend full trial. Meanwhile, Sang has written to the court confirming that he fully understands the charges against him.