, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Presidency has turned down a request by Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang to overturn a decision taken against a Kenya or Tanzania venue for their trials.
The court argues that there is no legal provision to allow an appeal against a decision taken by the Presidency.
A brief statement from the court on Friday indicated that the judges maintained their initial decision arguing that the request to vacate the initial ruling was not necessary.
“The Presidency rejects the defence request to vacate the decision of the plenary of judges on the joint defence application for a change of place where the court shall sit for trial in the case of the Prosecutor v William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang,” read the statement.
Ruto and Sang had requested the Presidency to reconsider the decision because they relied on a late submission from the Prosecutor to make it.
The court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had initially indicated that she did not have any misgivings with the Arusha or Nairobi venues before changing her mind at the 11th hour.
According to one of the judges, who voted for the local venues, it seemed like Bensouda had a change of heart after receiving a dissuading open letter from activist Gladwell Otieno.
“As a result of consultation with the Judges who were present at the plenary session of 11 July 2013, it has been decided that a reconsideration of the decision by the plenary of judges is not warranted, notwithstanding the issues raised by the Defence in their application,” read the statement.
ICC Head of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor Phakiso Mochochoko had on Wednesday told Capital FM News that Bensouda did not fully support the local venues.
He explained that her disapproval for a local venue was compounded by the fact that some of her witnesses and some of the victims had expressed security fears if the trials were brought closer home.
“It’s not that we changed our minds. If you look at the filings that we made all we said is that ideally it would be good to have the trials in Kenya or Tanzania,” he argued.
“But then on the basis of the information that we have now, that would not be good. Victims and witnesses have said that they are afraid of coming here.”
The trial against Ruto and Sang is scheduled to begin next Tuesday and will go on until October 4, when the court will take 10 days off and continue with the hearings until November 1.
Bensouda has been given seven months to present her case has against the two Kenyans.
The trial against President Uhuru Kenyatta begins on November 12.