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Ruto’s ICC case proceeds in his absence

The Deputy President has been present in court at every session since his trial started last month. Photo/FILE

The Deputy President has been present in court at every session since his trial started last month. Photo/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 28 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) trial against Deputy President William Ruto will continue in his absence on Monday with the sixth witness taking the stand.

This is after the court granted Ruto three days off allowing him to travel back home and carry out State functions as President Uhuru Kenyatta heads to Rwanda for a three-day visit.

The Deputy President is expected to travel back to The Hague on Wednesday.

Ruto, who is facing crimes against humanity charges alongside former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, jetted into the country on Saturday morning and will be represented in court by his lawyers.

This will be the first time since his trial started, when he is not physically in court as the case proceeds.

The ICC Prosecution has time and again insisted on the physical presence of the accused in court but on Friday the office said they did not have a problem with the Deputy President being away.

“We are left with no doubts as to what has been done. The ruling is on the basis of concession of the parties that the court grants the request of the Defence,” Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji ruled on Friday.

Last week, the Appeals Chamber reversed a decision that had been made by Trial Chamber V(a) Judges excusing Ruto from being continuously present during his trial.

The five member Appeals bench led by Presiding Judge Song Sang-Hyun said that Ruto would have to be psychically present and only excused under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

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A few hours after the Appeals Chamber made the decision Ruto asked for time off noting the need for Kenya to participate in the regional summit.

Kenya was unable to participate at the United Nations General Assembly in September because Kenyatta could not leave the country as his Deputy was at The Hague.

Ruto was also forced to travel back home for one day to allow the President attend an African Union meeting on October 12, whose main agenda was the ICC.

The Constitution of Kenya bars the President and Deputy President from being out of the country at the same.

“The absence of the accused can only take place in exceptional circumstances and must not become the rule. Any absence must be limited to that; that is strictly necessary,” said Judge Song on Friday.

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