It’s now official that Deputy President William Ruto will still travel to The Hague for his trial pending a decision on his request for excusal from physical presence in court
The global court has ruled that Ruto is expected to honour his date with the judges when his trial resumes on January 13.
According to the decision issued by the three judge bench, the request by Ruto to be excused from trial was not made on time.
“Had the request been filed earlier, the chances of its consideration before the hearing resume would have been greater,” the bench headed by Nigerian Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said in a five-page ruling.
“…For the foregoing reasons, the Chamber hereby instructs the defence that Mr Ruto is required to be present at trial pending a decision on the request,”
At the same time, the bench gave International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda up to January 9 to respond to the defence plea and not January 13 as she had requested.
Initially, Ruto had opposed Bensouda’s request for additional time arguing that granting the request will prejudice the deputy head of state by requiring him to travel to attend trial when the excusal request might be granted.
“Trial proceedings are scheduled to resume on the day the Prosecution propose to file the response. There is, thus, a risk that Mr Ruto might be required to undertake unnecessary travel,” argued Deputy President’s lead counsel Karim Khan.
But in the ruling, the judges said that in the circumstances, an extension by a few days will not prevent the chamber from considering the request expeditiously and would not prejudice the deputy president.
On December 16, Khan requested that his client be excused from continuous attendance at trial following amendments by the Assembly of State Parties (ASP).
The ASP amended Article 134 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which allows the use of video technology and excusal from physical attendance.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is also yet to respond to Bensouda’s application for the adjournment of his trial date by three months.
Earlier, his defence team had indicated that they would petition the judges to terminate the cases after the prosecution admitted that it did not have sufficient evidence
President Kenyatta, Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang are accused of masterminding unrest after the disputed 2007 presidential election in which at least 1,100 people died.