, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 21 – Deputy President William Ruto has now moved to the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking staggered appearances at his trial, after the judges ruled he must attend all sessions in person.
Ruto in an application by lawyer Karim Khan wants the trial varied so that it runs for two weeks, before taking a break for a further two weeks, to enable him discharge his State duties.
“The defence respectfully requests that the Trial Chamber vary the court sitting schedule in order that this case sits two weeks on, two weeks off from the start of trial until further notice and, in any event, until the Appeals Chamber renders its decision on the appeal,” Khan said in an application filed on Tuesday evening.
The request followed a ruling by the Appeal Chamber granting the prosecution’s request that Ruto continuously attends his trial pending determination of the appeal contesting an earlier decision to excuse him from portions of his trial.
Khan explained that Ruto has all along cooperated with the court and intends to continue doing so, hence the court should allow him the two week break for him to attend to the constitutional duties bestowed upon him.
“He seeks to continue that cooperation and record of compliance out of respect for the ICC, his belief in the rule of law and out of a desire to clear his name in respect of allegations he rejects as completely false. Ruto wishes to navigate a way where he can do this whilst discharging his constitutional responsibilities as the democratically elected Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya. The defence submits that the present request balances these considerations in a reasonable and fair way,” Khan asserted.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed the Trial Chamber’s July 18 decision granting Ruto exemption from attending all trials, and asked the Appeals Chamber to suspend the decision if it is unable to resolve the case before Ruto’s trial commences.
In her application lodged on July 30, Bensouda argued she wanted Ruto compelled to be present in person during all sessions of his trial that is set to begin on September 10.
She contended that the Trial Chamber had a different reading of the Rome Statute when it allowed him to skip sessions of the trial contrary to the Act that provides for accused persons to be present during trial.
Bensouda also said the Trial Chamber accorded Ruto ‘special treatment’ based on his position as the Deputy President of Kenya.
She insisted that Ruto has to be present the same way his co-accused Joshua arap Sang will be in court throughout.
The Appeals Chamber is expected to issue a ruling on the matter but for the time being Ruto will have to attend all the sessions of the trial until the court dictates otherwise.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is facing trial alone in the second Kenyan case.
The prosecution dropped the case against Kenyatta’s co-accused Francis Muthaura. Earlier, the court failed to confirm charges against former Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey (Kenya Case I )and ex-police chief Hussein Ali (Kenya case II).