, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) trial against Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang resumes on Wednesday after about a week’s break, following the Westgate tragedy.
The first witness, only identified as P0536, will continue giving her account of the events that transpired during the 2007-8 post-election violence.
However it is not possible to tell how far her testimony has gone after the Trial Chamber V (a) ruled that her entire account would be done in-camera.
“I am sure the public will understand because efforts are being made by some people to reveal the identity of the witnesses with obvious intent of discouraging the witness to testify. The public will surely understand that measures need to be taken,” said judge Chile Eboe-Osuji on September 19.
The first witness took the stand on September 17 with her voice distorted and her face pixelated to protect her identity.
But by evening, on the same day, various social networks posted her supposed name and pictures raising concern with the court.
The Trial Chamber judges then decided that she would only be visible to those in the court so that she can be protected from the public.
Victims’ Legal representative Wilfred Nderitu said that her ability to testify in public had been hampered and there was need to safe guard her psychological interests.
“It did appear to me yesterday when I visited her after the afternoon session that indeed her psychological wellbeing will be very seriously impacted by the kind of measures she gets and that definitely has an impact on the manner in which she would testify,” argued Nderitu on September 19.
The judges had given Ruto time off last Monday to allow him travel back to Kenya to attend to security concerns over the Westgate terror attack.
Ruto wanted to get two weeks off the trial following the attack, with his lead counsel Karim Khan, saying that it was not possible for him to get security briefings over the phone.
But the Prosecution’s Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg said the two week’s break was unnecessary because Ruto could delegate his national responsibilities over the security attack to someone else.
This assertion did not go down well with the Defence side who told Steynberg that the Deputy President’s functions could not be passed on to someone else except in very special circumstances.
“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 last Monday.
The Court’s Appeal Chamber has also refused to lift the suspensive effect for Ruto so as to excuse him from continuous presence at the Court pending an appeal by the Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Ruto will have to be present at all his trial sessions until the Appeals Chamber rules otherwise.