NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber V has given the prosecution seven months within which to make its case against Deputy President William Ruto and Journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The three-judge chamber composed of Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr has given 588 hours for the prosecution’s examination of witnesses and cross-examination by defence counsel.
“This calculation is premised upon the examination in chief of the prosecution’s witnesses lasting for an average of four hours and multiplied by 3.5,” their decision reads.
The 3.5 multiplication emanating from the chamber’s decision is to allow both Ruto and Sang’s counsel an equal amount of time as the prosecutor to cross-examine the witnesses.
The Chamber and Legal Representative of the victims will have half the time used to examine the witness to seek any clarification they may require.
“This multiplier is premised upon each defence team using the same aggregate amount of time for cross-examination as the prosecution for its examination-in-chief and the Legal Representative and the Chamber combined using for their questions in aggregate 50 percent of the time of the examination-in-chief,” the Chamber explained.
Using this calculation the Chamber explained that had they allowed Bensouda’s request for 300 hours for 40 witnesses, even if she had reduced this figure from 413 hours for 46 witnesses, the prosecution would have taken up to 1,050 hours to complete its case.
While the prosecution’s case will now be spread out over seven months, it will actually be heard over 131 days of four and a half hour sittings each day.
The prosecution will now have about half the time it requested to examine its witnesses despite their submission that the Kenyan case is more complex than the cases it has handled in the past.
“The case at bar is more complex than earlier cases because it concerns two accused who were allegedly involved in a number of incidents amidst a network – in contrast to dealing with solely one incident and one accused who is part of a well-defined hierarchy,” the prosecution submitted.
The Chamber did not buy this argument however, stating that the prosecution should be better not lesser equipped to handle the Kenyan cases on account of the prior cases they referred to.
“The Chamber remains of the view that lessons learnt from those earlier cases should result in the reduction – not increase – in the time it takes to conduct the case for the prosecution.”
Also in the interest of the time it will take to hear the Ruto and Sang case, the Chamber has directed the parties to use protection information sheets where possible to limit the number of times the trial will have to go into closed sessions.
“For purposes of mentioning protected information that occur few and far between in the course of testimony of one witness, the parties are directed to make use of the Protected Information Sheet (PIS).”
But even as the Chamber prepares to hear testimony come Tuesday next week, two more witnesses were reported on Sunday to have pulled out of the Ruto and Sang case citing mental anguish.
Ruto and Sang have also filed an appeal for the ICC to overturn its decision not to hold their trials either in Nairobi or Arusha.