NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – The trial against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was on Friday adjourned to June 16 over witnesses difficulties.
Trial Chamber V(A) Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji directed the prosecution to ensure it will have witnesses to take the stand for the one-month session that will run up to July 16.
“The prosecution requested an adjournment due to logistical challenges relating to their ability to bring witnesses to testify for this session. We adjourn to reconvene on June 16 for a session that will last to the 16th of July,” Eboe-Osuji ruled.
The judge however expressed concern over the prosecution’s challenge in bringing witnesses to testify and directed that all means available should be used.
He particularly mentioned the short session of the trial that resumed on Wednesday only for it to end two days later after the prosecution failed to present witnesses.
The trial was initially supposed to resume on Monday but was moved to Wednesday over the same challenge of lack of witnesses.
According to the Trial Chamber, the prosecution should stretch the possibilities it has in ensuring witnesses are available to testify when the trial resumes.
“The chamber expresses very serious concern and dissatisfaction that we only had days of testimony in this session, a session that was scheduled to last for four weeks hearing witnesses. All available means must be applied by the prosecution to ensure that this is not repeated,” Eboe-Osuji warned.
He advised the prosecution to make ‘requests for cooperation and even requests for summonses’ to ensure it has witnesses to fill up the session between June and July.
Ruto, who was in The Hague in compliance with a requirement for him to be in court during the first five days after a court recess, will be present for two days only when the trial resumes in June.
Earlier, defence teams of Ruto and Sang requested the judges to compel the prosecution to furnish them with the updated list of witnesses and also bring the remaining four witnesses to testify and have the case closed.
Ruto’s lawyer Karim Khan complained that the prosecution was inconveniencing parties in the case. READ Witness removal could hinder Ruto’s case – ICC judges
“The prosecution should be ordered to get their ducks in a row so that those witnesses come to fill the next sessions. It is not fair to keep investigating for witnesses that have indicated to the prosecution they are not willing to attend. We want this case to close before the summer break,” Khan said.
According to the defence counsel, the inconsistencies of witness presentation was delaying the process and unfairly dragging justice for the accused persons.
“It is understandably causing a huge difficulty for the clients (Ruto and Sang). Their names have been tarnished long enough. There is no reason why the prosecution should be given an indulgence to have adjournment as if it’s a matter of course. We are saying have your adjournment but at that point get your witnesses together and you close your case once they have testified,” he said.