NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber on Thursday allowed Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang to appeal a decision that allowed ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to use statements of recanting witnesses.
The judges concluded that the defence teams raised appealable issues that require an interpretation of the Appeals Chamber decision to avoid adverse effects on the case.
They based their explanation on several issues which included the possibility of the prior recorded statements affecting the outcome of the trial.
“Noting the scope and content of the prior recorded testimonies, the chamber is of the view that the prior recorded testimonies, if relied upon, objectively may be expected to have a significant impact on the outcome of the trial.”
According to the judges, there was a high possibility that statements of the four witnesses would affect the outcome of the trial in view that they were not expert witnesses.
If the decision issued was found to be in error later, the judges explained that the prior recorded statements would not be relied upon when determining the outcome of the trial.
“If the Appeals Chamber during proceedings pursuant to Article 81of the Statute, if applicable, were to find the impugned decision to be in error it could lead to the admitted prior recorded testimonies being declared inadmissible.”
In allowing the defence teams to appeal the decision, it was further noted that there would be interference with the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings.
“The chamber agrees with the defence that the identified issues relate to incriminatory evidence that has been admitted into the record and which could significantly impact the length of the proceedings,” they stated.
The defence teams requested for leave to appeal the decision in which Bensouda wanted prior recorded statements of five witnesses who recanted to be admitted as evidence.
The lawyers argued that the amendment passed during the 12th Session of the Assembly of State Parties in 2013 was not to be applied retrospectively.
They also complained that it would infringe on the rights of the accused since there would be no opportunity to cross-examined statements made by the five witnesses.
Of concern serious concern was the credibility and reliability of recorded statements which the defence teams have contested several times since the ICC case commenced.