ICC rejects Ruto plea to vary hearings, to sit daily

August 29, 2013 2:00 pm
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Trial Chamber V says it will issue further sitting schedules once the case begins and might modify them once President Uhuru Kenyatta's case starts in November/FILE
Trial Chamber V says it will issue further sitting schedules once the case begins and might modify them once President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case starts in November/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 29 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has rejected a request by Deputy President William Ruto to have a staggered hearing of two weeks each, saying the court will sit on a daily basis from September 10 to October 4.

In a statement sent on Thursday, the court said it would take 10 days off after October 4 before continuing with the hearings on October 14 all the way to November 1.

Trial Chamber V said it would issue further sitting schedules once the case begun and might modify the schedules once President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case starts in November.

The chamber argued that there was need for the case against Ruto and former radio personality Joshua arap Sang to advance as much as possible before the effects of other cases affect the schedule.

“The chamber stressed the significance of advancing as much as possible in the case of Mr Ruto and Mr Sang, before constraints related to other cases affect the schedule,” read the statement.

Ruto had applied to have staggered hearings of two weeks before taking a two week break because of his official duties in the country, which ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had said that she had no problem with.

She explained that as long as witnesses were given enough time to finish giving their evidence, she was okay with the spreading out of the hearings.

Bensouda also said that if the breaks are to be allowed, victims should be considered so that they are not kept for too long waiting to testify.

The court has previously turned down an application to have the sittings in Arusha or Nairobi to make it easier for the accused and even victims to attend the sessions.

It emerged on Wednesday, that Ruto and Sang missed having their trials heard in either of the venues by only one vote.

“Following extensive debate, votes were taken with nine Judges in favour of changing the seat of the Court to Kenya and five Judges against; nine judges in favour of changing the seat of the court to Tanzania, four judges against and one judge abstaining,” the ruling from the ICC plenary indicated.

But despite getting a majority of judges supporting a Nairobi or Arusha venue, they failed to reach the two thirds majority of 10 votes as required.

The court has however given the three ICC indictees an assurance that they will not be arrested.

“The accused persons will not be detained when they appear before the ICC judges for the trials. There was no arrest warrant against any of the Kenyans accused. There were only summons to appear, they continue to be free as they were,” said ICC Spokesman Fadi el Abdallah in a video recording on Wednesday.

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