NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 4 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber V(a) now wants the case against Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang to resume after November 18 and proceed all the way to December 13 before breaking for Christmas.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said on Monday that the Chamber would like to sit over this period to expedite the trial against the two and also recover time lost dealing with other issues.
The judge explained that the Chamber wanted two more prosecution witnesses to take the stand during that extended period saying that the exact schedule would be revealed in due course.
“There will be no sitting in the week of November 11 but beyond that, that is the week of November 18 to December 13, we have four weeks that the Chamber really feels we should fit in at least two more witnesses,” said the judge.
Ruto’s lead lawyer Karim Khan however asked the judges to allow the Defence, Prosecution and Victims’ Unit to come up with a proposed schedule of what would work best for them.
He said that it would not be the best idea for the court to break on November 8 only to resume a week later.
“Would the court be amenable that we have discussions and maybe come back with a preference to the Chamber and if that preference is amenable to all parties and of course to the bench then maybe that could be the period that we choose,” argued Khan.
“From my point of view we would rather have two consecutive weeks rather than dividing them.”
After the court’s lunch break, both the Prosecution and the Defence told the Chamber that they would prefer if the trial resumes on November 20 and proceed with the two witnesses without breaking so as to close before December.
“We have conferred and the position as my learned friend would confirm is that their preference would be to start on the 18th and to try to finalise both of these witnesses in one go without break and have the whole of December off,” explained Senior Prosecution Attorney Anton Steynberg.
Khan asked the court to discourage hearsay evidence during the extended period so as to prevent time wastage arguing that if this request was granted it would be possible to conclude with the witnesses before December.
He added that he had reviewed the evidence of witness P0423 and determined that it was largely hearsay.
“A party may be able to be very focused to get evidence that is relevant and if we do that it may be that the bench’s desire that we complete two witnesses by the 29 can be achieved,” said Khan.
Ruto’s and Sang’s case has already been extended by a week. This extension will end on November 8 before the court breaks for one week as proposed by the judges.
The court has time to sit extra weeks after the postponement of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial to February 5, 2014.
Khan had also decried to the court the losses that the Defence teams had incurred as a result of the change in the court schedule.
He urged the judges to release the new court schedule early enough so that the Defence players could be able to plan their schedules accordingly.
“My learned friend Mr Faal (Essa-one of Ruto’s lawyers) has just lost almost £900 (Sh122,864) because of the change of ticket so it’s expensive for the defence,” argued Khan.
Judge Eboe-Osuji said that the issue would be dealt with.