NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – The ICC case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang is facing a major dilemma after Trial Chamber V (a) judges raised concerns over the reliance on the evidence of witness P0025 who was withdrawn by the prosecution on Wednesday.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji noted that the prosecution had heavily relied on the evidence of the witness and had indicated to the court that the witness would testify on Friday only for it to withdraw him two days before.
“The chamber notes in that regard, the extensive reference to the evidence of this witness as made in the decision confirming the charges as well as the prosecutor’s pre-trial brief,” the judge noted.
The judges found it prudent for the prosecution to produce the video recording in reference to article 67 (2) of the Rome Statute and Rule 77 which he quoted as, “it could affect the credibility of the prosecution case or be material for preparation to the defence.”
“The court directs the prosecution to immediately disclose the video of the witness preparation to the defence,” judge Eboe-Osuji directed.
Senior Trial Attorney Anton Steynberg for the prosecution told the court that the video would be made available for the defence teams to view within the court premises.
Earlier, he was reluctant to release the video to the defence arguing that it was not important as the prosecution had all the same withdrawn the witness.
Lawyer Karim Khan who had requested for the video recording and other communication materials between the Office of the Prosecutor, the Victims and Witness Unit and the witness in question alleged that the witness should be retained at The Hague for further questions on allegations that eight other prosecution witness received benefits through him in order to testify at the ICC.
He further contended that the prosecution used his evidence to confirm charges against Ruto and also made references to his evidence in the pre-trial brief.
Though the judges could not immediately make a decision on the stay of the witness at The Hague and also on the credibility of the prosecution’s case against Ruto and Sang, directed that the witness be retained until Khan sheds more light on his request Friday morning.
“The chamber makes no determination now whether the credibility of the prosecution case has been affected by the mere fact of the prosecutor’s request of leave to withdraw this witnesses the circumstances in which that request was made, and the prosecution’s communications and submissions as far made regarding that withdrawal,” Eboe-Osuji clarified.
“The chamber will reconvene tomorrow (Friday). The chamber will hear the Ruto defence finally on the matter if this witness should be kept in The Hague,” the judge said.
The prosecution on Wednesday informed parties in the case against Ruto and Sang that it had withdrawn witness P0025 over credibility failures. READ ICC Prosecution withdraws ‘unreliable’ witness
Meanwhile, the ICC prosecution has requested the court to postpone the trial against Ruto and Sang to June over the witness hitch.