NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 31 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber V(a) has broken the heart of former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang after denying him a chance to come back home and attend his six year old daughter’s graduation.
In the majority decision, Judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr put a damper on Sang’s request to have Friday off while Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji dissented with their decision.
The judges argued that the graduation was not reason enough to justify a day’s break because it is not an exceptional reason and because the witness who is currently testifying had adversely mentioned Sang.
“The decision is by majority and the view is that while the occasion is of importance to him (Sang) and his family, it cannot be regarded as an exceptional circumstance warranting excusal,” ruled the majority.
But while disagreeing with the decision of his colleagues, Judge Eboe-Osuji took pity on Sang noting that he had always cooperated with the court and it would do no harm to allow him the break to attend his daughter’s graduation.
He also noted that Sang wanted to be there for his daughter on her day and keep his promise to her by asking for the day off.
“In my own view, the request should be granted. Justice may be blind but it is blind for a purpose. At any rate it always had a heart that cared for the interests of small children. The request is to permit Mr Sang keep his promise to his six year old daughter,” argued Judge Eboe-Osuji.
He further observed that Sang was an accused person and so the presumption of innocence until proven guilty should stand.
The graduation had been planned for November 7 before being brought forward to November 1 and Sang was informed of the changes at the last minute.
Judge Eboe-Osuji noted that this was also a ground why Sang should be allowed to travel back home.
Sang had through lawyer Katwa Kigen said on Wednesday that he and his daughter would be emotionally affected if the request was rejected.
He explained that his daughter was too young to understand what the ICC proceedings were about and she would not be in a position to understand why her dad could not make it for her kindergarten graduation.
“He had assured his daughter that he would attend that graduation and is afraid that if he doesn’t attend the girl will not understand why he did not attend because the girl is not able to understand the ICC proceedings,” argued Kigen.
Prosecution Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg had however said that the request should be rejected because the Court had limits and an accused could not be excused from being psychically present due to familial reasons.
“One is always reluctant to disappoint children and I sympathise with my learned friend. However there are limits within which the Courts must operate and the limits which the Appeals Chamber had set down do not allow for excusal to be able to attend family occasions,” argued Steynberg.
“In those circumstances I regret to say that we must oppose.”