Two of Kenya’s suspects at the International Criminal Court (ICC) want their case scheduled to start on April 10 delayed for more than four months to allow their defense teams prepare adequately.
William Ruto, a vice presidential candidate under the Jubilee coalition and former radio presenter Joshua Sang requested that the prosecution provide them with audio clips and transcripts of evidence by the witnesses to allow perusal and adequate preparations.
Ruto and Sang also want the case heard in bigger chunks of three to four weeks once the trial commences.
The two face crimes against humanity charges at the ICC in relation to their role in Kenya’s post-election violence in December 2007 and January 2008. Others who face similar charges include Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also a presidential candidate for the March 4th polls and Francis Muthaura, a former cabinet secretary. The crimes allegedly left more than 1000 people dead and another 650,000 internally displaced.
Earlier, Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura also requested for a postponement of the ICC trial citing inadequate time to countercheck the evidence prosecution has against them.
Kenyatta ‘s lawyer, Stephen Kay says that the prosecution is relying on weak evidence something that the defense team has protested. The lawyer also noted that court was not allowing the defence to investigate the matter on their own. Kay noted that there are individuals supplying witnesses to the prosecution asking court to allow them investigate the chain and examine the motivation.
So far, prosecution confirms that only 8 out of 46 witnesses have not been disclosed in Ruto and Sang’s case. But the defence lawyers argued that January 9 2013 was the deadline for disclosure complaining that it had not been observed by prosecution. At least 46 witnesses were disclosed, five of whom have been withdrawn by prosecution without clear indication whether or not they will return to the case later. Three expert witnesses are among those yet to be disclosed.
The defence team of both Ruto and Sang also complained that the case has shifted focus to include events dating back to 2005 and not just those of 2007/2008. They protested that venues purported to have been hot spots of violence tripled since the charges were confirmed. The defence team argued that they needed to have the entire picture and direction the case will take before trials commence.
Ruto requested to attend court summons via video link. But Presiding Judge, Kuniko Ozaki ruled that the defence make written submission indicating the legal basis and modalities of having the video link by end of February.
Prosecution on the other hand denied that the focus of the case has shifted. They argued that inclusion of events that occurred before the post-election violence is because they related directly to the violence of 2008.
On delayed disclosure, prosecution is mindful of the law and ensures the protection of the witnesses before disclosure to defence is made.
The Trial Chamber Five will make its decision known once the defence teams make written submissions to it. The judges are Kuniko Ozaki, Christine Van den Wyngaert and Chile Eboe-Osuji.