20 September 2013

Kenya: Try Me in the Open for My Mum's Sake - Ruto

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) judges presiding over his case to try him in the open for his mother's sake.

Through his defence counsel Karim Khan, Ruto said that he wants his mother to be able to ascertain for herself that he is being falsely accused.

"Particularly with the mother who is 80 years of age... of course Mr Ruto wants to reassure his mother that she has peace that this is a son to be proud of, not a son to be ashamed of," Khan argued.

He therefore asked the judges to take this into consideration when they give their ruling whether or not the rest of the prosecution's witnesses should give their testimony in-camera as witness P0536 has.

And your honours a decision may be rendered whenever, it could be one year... it could be more, but as the trial unfolds let every person observing make their own assessment regarding the veracity of the claims," Khan implored.

Joshua arap Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen joined Khan in making this plea on behalf of his client who he said was psychologically, 'traumatised,' by the bench's decision to allow Witness P0536 to give her testimony in private.

"With all the words I can use I am unable to describe the pain he's going through in the manner of the closed proceedings that have the effect of suggesting that he has absolutely no rights in terms of having his situation understood by people who matter to him," Kigen submitted.

He explained that prior to his trial, Sang had been barred for discussing the specifics of the case against him with anyone including the members of his family but had been hopeful that he would be given a public hearing.

"The allegations against my client have been treated confidentially all along to the extent that much as he may be aware of the case against him he's not allowed to tell his family members, he's not allowed to tell his acquaintance, he's not allowed to tell anybody else," Kigen impressed upon the court.

And while acknowledging the concession that transcripts of the closed proceedings will be made available to the public, Kigen asked that the redaction be supervised so as not to paint a defamatory picture of the accused.

Understanding the concerns of the co-accused, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji assured them that the three-judge chamber will take their loved ones into consideration when deciding whether or not to extend the protective measures accorded to Witness P0536 to the rest of the prosecution's witnesses.

"As we were at pains to explain, there were special circumstances attending this witness' appearance in court in the course of her testimony that necessitated the revision of the protective measures. When we get to the other witnesses we will see what the situation is. It is hoped there will not be a repeat of what happened to this first witness," he said before moving into a closed session to hear the rest of Witness P0536's testimony.

In another concession, Eboe-Osuji also took under advice, Khan's suggestion that the chamber consider giving a summary of the events that took place behind closed doors when the court sessions open to the public.

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