, NAIROBI, Kenya, June 18 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has given Deputy President William Ruto the green light to skip some Court sessions when his trial begins in September, but made it mandatory for him to be present during the crucial sessions including the opening and closing statements.
In a decision made public on Tuesday afternoon, Trial Chamber V rejected Ruto’s request to be allowed to participate in most of the trials through a video link due to his involvement in government duties.
In a majority decision delivered by Presiding Judge Chile Eboe Esuji, the Chamber also directed that Ruto be present when the Court is issuing its verdict, when the victims are making their submissions and during the reparation hearings.
The Court can also request him to be present for other reasons other than those outlined.
“The absence resulting from excusal from continuous presence at the trial at other times must always be seen to be directed towards performance of Ruto’s duties of state. The requests concerning attendance via video-link, and all other prayers are dismissed,” read the decision.
The ICC further cautioned the Deputy President against disregarding the directive warning that it would lead to the issuance of a warrant of arrest.
“Violations of any of these conditions may result in the revocation of the excusal and/or the issuance of an arrest warrant, as appropriate,” the court warned.
Though the Rome Statute requires accused persons to be physically present during the trials, the Judges were of the view that there can be exceptions with concrete reasons why the accused will not be present.
According to the document the Judges accepted Ruto’s request after considering his duties as Kenya’s Deputy President.
The decision however does not apply to Ruto’s co-accused Joshua arap Sang.
“The Chamber found that Ruto’s duties as the Deputy President of Kenya qualify as an exceptional circumstance that would make such an excusal reasonable. The Chamber stresses that the excusal is purely a matter of striking a reasonable balance to accommodate the important functions that Mr Ruto must perform as Deputy President of Kenya. The benefit of the decision is that the trial proceeds without any interruption,” read the Judges’ decision.
Ruto’s defence will be required to submit a waiver signed by him to the registry regarding the decision made on Tuesday by next Tuesday.
Ruto made the request asking to be excused ‘from continuous presence during the trial’ on April 17 this year.
The Prosecution, which in its submissions had asked the Trial Chamber to reject Ruto’s application, is at liberty to appeal against the decision made on Tuesday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial date still stands at July 7 and so far he has not made a submission to that effect.
The Trial Chamber however allowed his defence team to seek for more time to prepare after reprimanding the prosecution for delayed disclosure of evidence.