, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to allow her to challenge a decision in which Deputy President William Ruto was conditionally excused from continuous presence during his trial at The Hague.
In the application to Trial Chamber V(a), Bensouda wants the court to explain if the interpretation of Rule 134, which was used to grant Ruto’s excusal, does not contradict the Rome Statute.
“Is Rule 134 as interpreted by the Chamber when granting conditional excusal to Mr Ruto, consistent with Articles 63(1), 21(3) and 27(1) of the Statute?” she asked.
She wants clarification if Rule 134 on its own allows: “The Chamber to conditionally excuse Mr Ruto from presence at trial subject to the conditions in paragraph 79 of the Chamber’s written reasons.”
According to her, a further clarification on the basis in which the judges excused Ruto should be explained further to ensure the interpretation of Rule 134 does not contradict the Rome Statute.
The judges who granted Ruto’s request to skip sessions of his trial based it on Rule 134 passed by the 12th Session of the Assembly of State Parties in November last year.
According to Bensouda, Ruto’s absence will affect the fairness and expedition of the ICC proceedings and also influence the outcome of his case.
“The issues need to be resolved by way of interlocutory appeal because they arise from the decision; they would significantly affect the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings; they would significantly affect the outcome of the trial; and immediate resolution by the Appeals Chamber may materially advance the proceedings,” Bensouda explained in her application to the ICC judges.
Ruto was allowed to skip sessions of his trial on January 15 due to his role as the Deputy President of Kenya.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji however outlined to Ruto nine conditions during which his physical presence would be required.
The conditions made 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.
The rest of the time, Ruto will be represented by his defence counsel like has been happening in the trial that is ongoing in The Hague.
Bensouda who has always been opposed to the excusal has argued that all accused persons are equal and should be treated equally.
The prosecution has further argued that granting Ruto the request amounts to blanket excusal.
However, the judges considered Ruto as the Deputy President of Kenya charged with important responsibilities.
Ruto is accused alongside former journalist Joshua arap Sang for orchestrating the 2008 post election violence in parts of the Rift Valley.