1 November 2013

Kenya: Ruto Excused From the Hague Next Week

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto has once again been excused from being physically present at his International Criminal Court trial after getting a week's break from November 1.

This is after his lead counsel Karim Khan applied to the Trial Chamber V(a) urging the Judges to excuse Ruto from the coming week's session because of his State duties.

Khan told the Court in his submissions on October 29 that Ruto had planned to be at The Hague until November 1, when his trial and that of his co-accused Joshua arap Sang was initially meant to break.

Ruto argued that the extension to November 8 had interfered with his State calendar and it would be difficult to be at the Dutch based Court for the additional week.

"The Chamber has deliberated on the request to excuse Mr Ruto from the proceedings next week. The Chamber unanimously grants the request; reasons will be given on Monday," said Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji on Friday.

Sang had also requested for Friday off to attend his six-year-old daughter's graduation but his application was turned down on reasons that it was not an exceptional ground.

The Court is also supposed to make another ruling on whether or not the trial will be extended any further and take up time that has been freed by the postponement of President Uhuru Kenyatta's trial.

Both the Defence and Prosecution teams want the trial to start on January 13, 2014 after the Court breaks for the Christmas holiday but they disagree on whether or not the trial should be extended after November 8.

Both Ruto's and Sang's defence lawyers want November 8 to be their last trial date this year but the prosecution insists that it is in a position to call about three witnesses before the Court's Christmas break.

"That would give the Defence very important time both to conduct very necessary investigations over the period until the New Year but also allow team members to fulfill the travel plans and bookings that they already have to have a bit of a Christmas break," argued Khan.

"The last time we had spoke with the prosecution we had expressed our desire to resume approximately on January 13 next year and the reasons are that we would have liked to use the scheduled break to conduct further investigations and attend to family issues," said Sang's lead counsel Katwa Kigen.

The Victims and Witnesses' Unit however wants the trial to continue after November 18 and then break for Christmas before resuming on January 6, 2014.

The Unit argues that victims have waited long enough for the trial and it is necessary for it to be concluded expeditiously.

The Chamber is yet to make this determination.

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