NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court has now recommended to the court’s presidency to hold the start of the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and Journalist Joshua Sang in Kenya or Tanzania.
The ICC Public Affairs Unit said in a statement on Monday evening that the position was reached after consideration of an application by Ruto on January 24.
The statement read: “Trial Chamber V(A) recommends to the presidency that it may be desirable to hold the commencement of trial and other portions thereof, to be determined at a later stage, in Kenya or, alternatively, in Tanzania”
“While the seat of the court is in The Hague (Netherlands), where the court considers that it would be in the interests of justice, it may decide to sit in a state other than the Netherlands,” the statement explained.
Trial Chamber V(A) said that it made the recommendation after analysing the benefits of bringing justice closer to the victims and also after looking at the issues of security for victims and witnesses in these proceedings.
The Judges said that they had also considered the need to ensure a fair and impartial trial free of any undue influence.
“The Chamber is of the view that all these considerations need to be taken into account. Therefore, the Chamber considers that the holding of the commencement and other portions of the trial particularly in Kenya would strike the right balance,” read the recommendation.
The final decision on the location of the court will however be made by the Judges in plenary session.
The Trial chamber has also set a new trial date for Ruto and Sang on September 10 after vacating the earlier May 28 date.
The court’s Public Affairs Unit said Trial Chamber V(A) had set the new date to allow the defence sufficient time to prepare for the case.
The chamber has also allowed Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to add two persons to her list of witnesses.
The statement said in part: “After reviewing the parties and participants’ observations, the chamber composed of judges Chile Eboe-Osuji (presiding), Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr, authorised the prosecutor to add two persons to her list of witnesses for this case and set the new date of the trial’s opening accordingly.”
During the status conference on May 14, the prosecution had sought to be allowed to add six more witnesses.
Ruto had in April petitioned the court to postpone his trial from May to November at the earliest, arguing that his right to adequate time for preparation would not be safeguarded if the trial was held as scheduled.
His lead counsel Karim Khan said the ICC prosecution’s office had become a burden by failing to provide the defence with timely information.