NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) has directed Deputy President William Ruto to be present during all sessions of his trial, pending the determination of an appeal by the prosecutor who is opposed to him skipping some sittings.
According to a statement from the ICC Public Affairs Unit on Tuesday, Ruto will be required to attend all the sessions when his trial starts on September 10 as he awaits the full ruling of the Appeals Chamber.
“Mr Ruto is now requested to be present during all trial hearings pending the final determination on the prosecutor’s appeal. The trial is scheduled to open on 10 September 2013. Today’s decision on the suspensive effect will have no bearing on the Appeals Chamber’s final decision, which will be made in due course,” the statement indicated.
On July 30, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted an application to the Appeal’s Chamber challenging the decision of the Trial Chamber which allowed Ruto to skip sessions of his trial to allow him time to attend to State duties.
Bensouda accused the Trial Chamber of applying the Rome Statute selectively by allowing Ruto to skip some of the trial sessions, which she said was in contravention of Article 63(1), which requires the accused to be present during a trial.
According to her, the decision gave Ruto special treatment which was not accorded to other accused persons. Ruto is facing trial in the same case with radio presenter Joshua arap Sang while President Uhuru Kenyatta faces trial alone in the second Kenyan case.
Former Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and ex-police chief Hussein Ali had their cases dropped at the confirmation stage. Former Civil Service Chief Francis Muthaura was later discharged after the prosecution withdrew charges against him.
Last week, officials from the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) emphasised the seriousness of the appeal, and why it was important for all the accused persons to be present during the trials.
Cooperation Advisor for the Kenyan Situation Shamiso Mbizvo said the Rome Statute makes it mandatory for all accused persons to appear in person for their trials and that the OTP was expecting the Appeals Chamber to make a ruling that will overrule the decision of the Trial Chamber.
In its ruling on June 18, Trial Chamber V directed Ruto to be physically present during crucial sessions among them the opening and closing statements of all parties in the case, during issuance of the chamber’s verdict, when the victims are making their submissions and during the reparation hearings.
He was also told he would be required to be in court upon the request of the chamber.
Ruto had asked to be allowed to skip continuous presence due to his duties as the Deputy President of Kenya.
However, the prosecution had at an earlier status conference said he knew he was an accused person even before he went for that position.