, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 23 – The trial against Deputy President William Ruto and his co accused Joshua arap Sang has been adjourned.
The postponement comes as the ICC Prosecutor and lawyers for Ruto haggle over how much time he needs to be away in Kenya due to the terror attack at the Westgate mall.
The judges made the decision on Monday afternoon to await the determination of an appeal filed by the Prosecution against an earlier request by Ruto seeking a two-week break from the court.
Ruto had asked for a suspension of the trial on Sunday, to allow him travel back home and play his role in handling the security attack at the heart of the Kenyan capital.
Trial Chamber V (a) Judges however granted him a one week leave pending the determination of the Prosecution appeal at the Appeals Chamber.
“The trial is adjourned pending either the Appeals Chamber’s decision on the defence’s urgent request or the expiration of the one-week excusal period whichever comes earlier,” read a statement from the court.
The court also indicated that there would be a status conference on Friday to determine if the witnesses will continue in light of what the appeal bench rules.
Ruto’s lead counsel Karim Khan had told the court on Monday morning that Ruto could not adequately handle the sensitive situation while at The Hague.
“Security issues dealing with a violent terrorist group, that has the audacity to tweet, cannot be done via a mobile phone. Executive decisions need to be made and the court has to be flexible enough to realise it,” argued Khan.
Ruto’s co accused Sang had through his lawyer Katwa Kigen also sought an adjournment of the trials to give his client time to mourn with his fellow Kenyans.
Kigen also said that Sang’s trial could not go on adequately without Ruto being present at the court.
“I am instructed also to highlight the discomfort that would arise if the proceedings were to go on in complete disregard of the tragedy that has befallen Kenya. There is some awkwardness in Mr Sang seeming to want to go on with his hearing notwithstanding the tragedy,” said Kigen.
The Victims Legal Representative Wilfred Nderitu told the chamber that he would go with whatever decision the judges made.
He however made a personal statement saying that an adjournment of the trial would be necessary owing to the devastating incident that has so far led to the deaths of 69 civilians.
“I think I will want to just leave it to the Trial Chamber to reach a decision on this. But speaking on my own behalf, of course I would be happier, I must say, if it was possible to have an adjournment,” he said.
The first witness (witness P0536) had however told the judges that she wanted to proceed with her testimony regardless of the tragedy facing the country.