15 January 2014

Kenya: Ruto Exempted From ICC Trial, but With Conditions

Photo: ICC
Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto at the Hague (file photo).

Nairobi — Deputy President William Ruto got a huge relief on Wednesday, as International Criminal Court (ICC) judges conditionally excused him from continuous attendance at his trial in The Hague.

During the status conference set to discuss his application, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji outlined to Ruto nine conditions during which his physical presence will be required.

"The chamber hereby conditionally excuses Mr Ruto from continuous presence at trial," Eboe-Osuji ruled as he read out conditions that the Deputy President will be required to observe.

The conditions make it mandatory for Ruto to be present when victims present their views and concerns in person.

Ruto will also be required to be in court as directed by the chamber either/or other request of a party or participant as decided by the chamber.

His presence will also be critical during the entirety of the delivery of the judgement, the entirety of the sentencing hearing - if applicable - and the entirety of the sentencing, if pertinent.

"He will also be needed in court for the entirety of the victim impact hearings (if applicable) the entirety of the reparation hearings, if applicable, and the first five days of hearing starting after a judicial recess as set out in the regulations of the court," the judges ruled.

In view of an oral submission made by Ruto's lawyer Karim Khan, the Deputy President was allowed to skip his trial on Thursday and Friday which fall within the requirement of his presence during the first five days after a judicial recess.

He was granted excused to allow him discharge State duties since President Uhuru Kenyatta is away in Angola for a regional summit.

"Mr Ruto is excused from presence at trial on the 16th and the 17th of January 2014. Mr Ruto shall, however, be present for the remainder of the period indicated under condition number eight. The fuller reasons for the oral decision will be issued in due course."

He was ordered to be present from Monday to Wednesday next week to honour the condition of being present during the first five days after court recess.

Earlier on Wednesday, the prosecution and the defence of Ruto locked horns as they explained to Trial Chamber V (a) judges reasons for their positions on the application on excusal.

The prosecution was hard-pressed to interpret its meaning of blanket excusal as well as the interpretation of Rule 134.

Representing the Prosecution, Anton Steynberg had to explain to the court how the application by Ruto if granted, would mean unequal treatment of accused persons at the ICC.

According to Ruto's lawyer, the request was for the benefit of the 40 million Kenyans and not for personal gain.

He also said Ruto was seeking excusal based on his roles as the Deputy President but not his status as claimed by the prosecution.

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