NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang want the International Criminal Court to sit on Saturdays so as to hasten their trial and recover lost time.
Both Ruto’s and Sang’s Defence lawyers Karim Khan and Katwa Kigen respectively asked the Trial Chamber V (a) judges on Wednesday to direct the court to sit on Saturdays and also extend the sitting hours in order to quicken their ongoing trial.
They both noted that the court had during the confirmation hearings sat on Saturdays and on some days prolonged the sittings until 7pm, adding that they were anxious to continue with their trial.
“We are happier on our side to have time extended to include Saturdays… we were obliged at the confirmation proceedings to conduct hearings on Saturday and we have come to get used to that,” said Kigen.
“We would also be content to sit on weekends if the court thought that was desirable so that we finish with one witness; let that witness leave and start with another one on Monday,” said Khan.
The judges have also cancelled a break that was to start on October 7 to October 11 owing to the time lost when Ruto was given about a week to travel back to Kenya and deal with the Westgate tragedy.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said that the court would sit for longer periods on Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Friday.
He added that the Chamber would make a ruling on the matter and would also factor in International Labour Organisations standards.
“We are making efforts to recover the lost time and part of those efforts is the cancellation of a break initially scheduled from October 7 to October 11. In addition we will also be sitting extended hours today and tomorrow,” said Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji.
Kigen had also asked the Judges to determine whether or not the sittings will be varied beyond November 1, but judge Eboe-Osuji said the schedule of the trial dates would remain as it was except in special circumstances that would require a change of date.
He added that a decision not to sit next Wednesday so as to allow another Chamber use the courtroom might be revoked.
“If the court is available we may also revisit that question and sit on Wednesday 9…. The reason for the initial indication of not sitting on that date was because of the use of this courtroom by another Chamber but we will liaise with that Chamber to know if it is possible to sit on that day,” he said.
Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg said that the Prosecution did not have any problem with the prolonged sittings as long the witnesses’ wellbeing is taken into consideration.