Nairobi — The International Criminal Court prosecution this week begins laying out its case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The prosecution will seek to prove the two were responsible for murder, deportation or forcible transfer of populations and persecution during Kenya's 2007-8 post-election violence.
"At this stage the prosecution will start presenting witnesses to testify on various accounts and charges that have been profiled against the accused persons," ICC Outreach Coordinator Maria Kamara said.
She said the prosecution will present approximately 30 witnesses.
"The prosecution in several public discussions has indicated in intends to present over 30 witnesses including those who witnessed the commission of crimes and expert witnesses that will be called upon. The correction was made by the senior attorney for the prosecution," she said.
On Wednesday, Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg clarified remarks he had made on Tuesday in his opening statement when he said the prosecution would call 22 witnesses, prompting Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen to question how the number had reduced from 42.
This weekend however, the prosecution suffered yet another major setback after withdrawal of four more key witnesses at the sensitive stage of the trials.
The case which kicked off last Tuesday but adjourned prematurely on Wednesday due to the late arrival of the first expert witness.
Despite the frequent withdrawals of witnesses, the prosecution still holds that its case against Ruto and Sang is watertight and that it has strong evidence to prove its allegations regarding their role during the 2007-8 post election violence.
According to Kamara, the prosecution, defence or judges can call expert witnesses to provide their knowledge in certain areas.
After the prosecution presents its witnesses other parties to the case; defence lawyers, victims legal representative and the judges will cross-examine each of the prosecution witnesses.
"The defence will have the opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses to test the veracity of the testimony they have presented. If their testimony has a concern to the victims, the lawyer for victims might be authorised to also ask the witness certain questions. Also for understanding of the judges they might ask this particularly witness certain questions to enhance them capture the full story of they have presented in the court room."
After the prosecution presents all its witnesses and after the cross-examination, the trial moves to the next stage where the defence opens its case.
At that stage, the defence of Ruto and Sang will present their witnesses who will also be cross-examined by the judges, victims' lawyer and the prosecution.
Upon completion of presenting defence witnesses and cross-examination by the parties to the case, the trial will enter a different stage which will be closing statements.
Just like it happened in the opening statements, the defence, prosecution and victims' lawyer will make their closing remarks.
"Having presented all the testimonies and closing statements, the judges will retire to deliberate on the evidence that has been presented to them in the courtroom not based on assumptions outside of the judicial process in the courtroom," Kamara asserted.
The review of the evidence by the three trial judges has no timelines but depends on the time they use to analyse evidence and arguments put forth by the defence, prosecution and victims.
Once done with the deliberations, the judges will then give a date when a verdict will be rendered.
The decision could be 'an innocent verdict, an acquittal or a guilty verdict.'
The accused persons if found guilty can be either be sent to jail or fined or both, or asked for reparation of victims.
"At the ICC if there is a guilty verdict, a sentence will range from a maximum of 30 years imprisonment followed by a fine as and when the judges will determine and also reparation for victims could be determined by the judges. The ICC cannot give a death penalty in the event of a conviction," Kamara explained.
Even though there is a live link of the proceedings of the ICC cases, there is always a delay of 30 minutes.
This, Kamara says, is to allow the court to redact sensitive information not meant for the public.
She explains only the court gets the full picture of the evidence presented by the prosecution and witnesses.
"This is a mechanism to ensure that if by any chance the name of a protected witness is mentioned or confidential information is disclosed in the courtroom the court will have the possibility to delete that information before it comes to the members of the public," she explained.
"There is a lot of filing being done and most of what comes out to the public comes out as heavily redacted, meaning confidential information is not there, it will be difficult to put together based on what we see on the screens. We have to continue to wait and follow the process and not come out with a conclusion because of one statement of one party to conclude whether the case is weak or whether the case is strong, only judges can determine that," she asserted.