, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – Deputy President William Ruto now says he does not want to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), preferring instead that his trial continues without him.
Ruto, who has hired Karim Khan as his lead lawyer in the case, has invoked a provision in the court’s rules that allows an accused person to waive his rights for personal appearance before the court.
“The right of an accused to be tried in his presence is an internationally recognised right. It is also recognised, including in the practice of this court, that an accused can waive the right to be present at trial provided his fair trial rights are otherwise guaranteed,” his lawyers argue in their application.
“Having been fully informed of the implications, Mr William Samoei Ruto wishes to waive his right to be present at his upcoming trial,” the application states.
Ruto does not however seek a blanket waiver and “has undertaken to attend the opening and closing of trial, judgment and all other hearings at which his attendance is requested by the Trial Chamber, or sessions he may choose to attend,” according to his lawyers.
The lawyer pledged that the defence team will regularly submit a signed document from the deputy president re-affirming his consent to the waiver.
“Should the Trial Chamber grant Ruto’s waiver, the defence submits that in order for the Trial Chamber to keep the situation under review, the defence could submit a pro forma waiver signed by Ruto to the court on a regular basis confirming Ruto’s continued informed consent to the waiver,” Khan promised.
In the request, Khan agreed that the court should continue with proceedings against his client but at the same time not deny him the opportunity to serve his role of governing the country, now that he is the sitting Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya.
According to him, once the court considers the application, it will be another opportunity of strengthening the country’s cooperation with the court.
If that request will not pass, he asked the court to alternatively allow Ruto to attend trial via video link from Nairobi in reference to an application made previously which the Trial Chamber is yet to rule on.
“On 4 March 2013, Ruto was democratically elected the Deputy President of Kenya. On 9 April 2013, Ruto was sworn into office. Ruto is now a sitting deputy Head of State. In view of this change in circumstances, the defence have further reflected on how to render meaningful and effective the rights and obligations of an accused under the Statute. The defence, therefore, submits this filing and requests that it be considered the primary request for relief and that the video link request be considered the alternative request for relief,” he asserted.
Khan further reminded the Trial Chamber that Ruto has all along been cooperating with the ICC including his presence at The Hague-based court whenever he was required and that he intends to continue with the same trend but urged the court to understand his important constitutional role in the governance and leadership of the Kenya.
“Ruto has voluntarily surrendered to the jurisdiction of the court. Specifically, Ruto is cooperating with the court, is actively participating in proceedings, and has attended before the court on various occasions. It is in these particular circumstances and against a background of established past compliance and future promised compliance that Ruto respectfully requests that he be permitted to waive his right to be present at trial,” he explained.
In the alternative, the defence requests that the Trial Chamber authorise, in principle, the use of video link technology to ensure the accused’s right to be present at trial is effectuated.
Ruto is accused alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, who have asked the court to allow them to attend the trials via video link.