Bensouda okay with staggered Ruto trial

August 26, 2013 9:43 am


BENSOUDA not opposed to Ruto’s request for staggered ICC trial dates but prefers breaks after 3 weeks and not 2 weeks as suggested by Ruto/FILE
BENSOUDA not opposed to Ruto’s request for staggered ICC trial dates but prefers breaks after 3 weeks and not 2 weeks as suggested by Ruto/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26 -The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Monday said she is not opposed to staggering the trial against Deputy President William Ruto and former presenter Joshua arap Sang.

However she is in favour of Sang’s request of three-week breaks instead of two weeks as requested by Ruto.

“The Prosecution does not object in principle to Ruto’s defence request, provided that the organisation of the court schedule is sufficiently flexible so as to allow for witnesses to finish their testimonies prior to any scheduled break. However, the Prosecution considers that alternating three week periods of sessions and breaks, as suggested by Sang’s defence during the status conference held on 19 August 2013, is a more practical proposition,” she said in her response to the application by the defence.

She further said she was not opposed to the proposed breaks as long as they do not come before witnesses on the stand complete giving their testimony to ensure clarity and efficiency of their presentations.

According to Bensouda, if the chamber considers the alterations, it should as well ensure that the witnesses are not held for too long waiting to testify because of the breaks.

“Moreover, the frequent interruption of the testimony of witnesses could potentially interfere with a clear and efficient presentation of the evidence. The prosecution considers that it would not be appropriate that a party be cut in the middle of a witness’ examination and be obliged to wait several weeks before having the opportunity to finish. The fragmentation of testimonies could be also unfair to the witnesses, who would be questioned on portions of their testimonies delivered weeks earlier,” she asserted.

She also informed the chamber that each of her witnesses would spend approximately one and half weeks to testify against the accused.

Though Bensouda adjusted the timelines that the prosecution would require to table its evidence, in an earlier application she had indicated that she would require approximately two months. She was however asked by the Trial Chamber to make some adjustments which she did in a confidential submission last week.

Last Wednesday Ruto’s defence lawyer Karim Khan made an application requesting the Trial Chamber to stagger Ruto’s trial by two weeks to allow him to attend to his State duties. A similar application was also made by Sang’s lawyer but requested for an alteration of three weeks.

This was after the Appeal’s Chamber ordered for Ruto’s continuous physical presence until the Appeals Chamber would issue the full decision of the prosecution’s request.

The Trial Chamber on June 18 allowed Ruto to skip sessions of his trial a decision that was opposed by the prosecution which challenged the ruling in its application to the Appeals Chamber.

The prosecution has argued that all accused persons are required under the Rome Statute to be physically present during their trials.

It has also said all accused persons should be treated equally despite their positions in government.

Ruto has asked the court to excuse him from continuous presence in the court to allow him to attend to state duties.

He is set to begin his trial alongside Sang on September 10 while President Uhuru Kenyatta will also start his trials on November 12.

Ruto, Sang and Kenyatta are the three Kenyans committed to trial following the 2008 post election violence in Kenya.

Charges against former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, former head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey were dropped.


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