, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9 – The Prosecution and Defence team in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang on Monday said they are ready for the opening of the trial that kicks off on Tuesday morning.
Addressing a press conference at The Hague, the parties said they had prepared adequate evidence to prove their argument for the criminal responsibility or innocence of the accused persons.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who maintained that the prosecution has never coached or bribed any of its witnesses said she has strong evidence against Ruto and Sang despite continued withdrawal of prosecution witnesses.
“I don’t want to start explaining how strong my case is or how weak it is. I have witnesses I am going before the judges. I am going to present my case. The judges will determine it in the end but I don’t want to sit here and say my case is weak or strong, we intend to present the evidence that we have before the judges,” she said.
Even as reports went round that another witness had dropped just a day before the trial against Ruto and Sang started, Bensouda said her case would continue with the evidence she has.
She further warned that the court is currently investigating reported intimidations to witnesses and victims and will soon be presented to the ICC judges once the process is complete.
In reference to the Rome Statute she said any culprits behind the intimidations risk a jail term of five years.
“We are sure that the interference is happening with the witnesses, we will prosecute all those who we believe are culpable for violations, regardless of their status. Those bribing or inducing witnesses must know it’s a crime that attracts a 5-Year jail term,” she warned as she thanked witnesses who she said have stood the tide of intimidations and bribes.
Anchoring her interest in giving victims of the 2007/2008 post election violence, Bensouda set it out clearly that the cases were not against the people of Kenya or any community but against individuals.
ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel while expressing concerns over the move by the Kenyan Parliament to withdraw Kenya from the Rome Statute noted that the cases against the three Kenyans would not be dropped even if Kenya succeeds in its bid.
Defence lawyers maintained that their clients are innocent and that the prosecution has wrongfully blamed them for the violence that left over 1,000 people dead and more than 600,000 others displaced.
Ruto’s defence lawyer Karim Khan in his scathing remarks blamed former Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo for shoddy investigations that he referred to as ‘elemental shambles.’ He said due to the poor foundation started by Ocampo, the Kenyan cases before the ICC would die due to lack of evidence and selection of the accused persons.
“This case will fall apart, and this is what we will submit to the Trial Chamber tomorrow (Tuesday). It will be done so because of lack of evidence and because of the wrong target selected, the deficient investigations that were conducted. This office got off from the wrong track from the beginning due to the previous prosecutor and that wrong footing has contaminated these cases in a very remarkable way,” he asserted.