, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 11 – The Ocampo Six will know if they will face charges before the international war crimes court by December this year or early January.
Officials of the court say confirmation of charges hearings could take about 20 days, after which the court has another 60 days to confirm or reject the charges.
The 60 days however may start running earlier if the defence completes giving written submissions earlier than the scheduled time but not later than the 20 days allowed.
According to ICC Spokesman Fadi el Abdallah confirmation of charges hearings against William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and Joshua arap Sang will start on September 1 and go on until September 20.
“Confirmation of charges hearings will be finished when written submissions are given, they can complete this earlier but not later than the September 20,” he said at a forum organised by the court in Nairobi.
For Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura and Ali Hussein confirmation of charges hearings will start on September 21 ending on October 11 or earlier.
Mr Abdallah says the confirmation of charges hearings are a crucial stage since that is the time that the court decides if it will proceed with the cases against the suspects or not.
“The confirmation of charges hearings is to examine if the Prosecutor has enough evidence. It is a serious thing as the court may confirm or reject the whole or part of the charges,” he explained.
Based on the evidence presented by the Prosecutor, the court can stop the entire process, or confirm the charges in total or partly.
The court can also give the Prosecutor more time to modify his evidence or complete his facts.
“The judges will decide what to do with the evidence. They can say the Prosecutor has no enough evidence. What he presents must be enough to go to trial. He must have enough evidence that justify to proceed to a trial,” he said.
Mr Abdallah added that is the period for the defence to be heard.
Messrs Ruto, Kosgey and Sang will each be allowed to call two witnesses. Three hundred and twenty seven victims will participate through the presentation of their lawyers.
As the case awaits the confirmation of charges hearings in September, there are legal issues pending before the court.
Mr Abdallah says the appeal by the Kenya government to challenge admissibility is a crucial decision that will determine if the ICC process will proceed or stop.
He says should the Appeals Chamber agree with the government, then the ICC has to withdraw the case against the suspects but if it doesn’t, then Kenya will lose its bid to challenge admissibility giving the court the leeway to proceed.
The Appeals Chamber which has five judges will basically ascertain if the three judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber applied law as it should be and verify if what they ruled was right or not but not looking at the merits and demerits of its ruling.
He clarified that up to now, the Appeals Chamber has not yet made any decision on that.
Should Kenya lose in its appeal, suspects can as well decide to challenge admissibility but they too have to prove their motive.
Despite the challenges, the ICC process will continue unless the court rejects the evidence of the Prosecutor or Kenya wins its case to challenge admissibility.