, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 18 – The deadline by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for five eastern Africa countries to file their submissions on why Deputy President William Ruto should be allowed to attend partial sessions during his trial is Wednesday.
The court has allowed Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea and Uganda to make arguments why Ruto should be excused from continuous presence by 4pm.
On June 18, Trial Chamber V (a) issued a decision excusing Ruto from being continuously physically present at trial, except for specified hearings.
But ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed the decision and the judges directed Ruto to attend all his trial sessions as the appeal awaits determination.
“A chamber may, if it considers it desirable for the proper determination of the case, invite or grant leave to a State, organisation or person to submit, in writing or orally, any observation on any issue that the Chamber deems appropriate,” read a statement sent from the ICC on Friday 13.
The African Union (AU) however wrote to the court complaining about the judges’ decision.
The union noted that the judges suspended Ruto’s request because Bensouda’s appeal was yet to be determined, yet they had refused to suspend the trials even though there was a pending request by the AU to have the Kenyan cases referred back home.
Ruto is charged alongside former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang while President Uhuru Kenyatta is being tried separately.
“The Trial Chamber in its earlier decision had taken cognisance of the Deputy President’s constitutional responsibilities on which basis the Court permitted him to attend only some sessions. On these grounds the Court should have upheld its decision pending the determination of the Prosecutor’s appeal,” argued the AU in a letter dated September 10.
In the letter co-signed by AU Chairperson Hailemariam Desalegn and AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the union asked for a stop to the trials until the judges determine its request.
The AU has also been accusing the court of being unfair and prejudicial in the manner in which it has been handling the Kenya cases.
The Appeals Chamber will issue its decision on the Prosecutor’s appeal in due course.
“While Kenya has always cooperated and reiterated its commitment to continue cooperating with the Court, it must do so in the context of its own constitutional requirements,” argued the AU.