Deputy President William Ruto will embark on a fight to end his case at The Hague after the last prosecution witness who takes to the dock concludes testifying.
Mr Ruto’s defence team, led by lawyer Karim Khan, will enter a no-case-to-answer motion, during which they will argue that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has failed to provide evidence to back up her charges.
“The lawyers will seek to terminate the case against the DP by moving a motion of No-Case-to-Answer, instead of calling witnesses to counter Bensouda’s case,” said a source close to the legal team.
The DP’s legal team appears to have been given an impetus to go for the termination of the charges of crimes against humanity brought against their client following last week’s admission by the ICC prosecutor that she was yet to obtain key sections of incriminating evidence in the case.
In an application to the Trial Chamber judges last Wednesday, Ms Bensouda revealed that she had been blocked from accessing the key evidence that could help nail Mr Ruto allegedly through manipulation of witnesses by “a scheme of people” linked to the DP.
To overcome the hurdle that threatens her case against the DP and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang, the prosecutor requested the Trial Chamber judges to allow her to use the original recorded statements as evidence in the case.
“As a result, the Prosecution has been deprived of a significant portion of the incriminating evidence that it intended to present to Trial Chamber in support of its charges. Thus, the Prosecution is compelled to resort to alternative methods to place before the Chamber the relevant and cogent evidence that these witnesses would otherwise have provided,” she says.
Ms Bensouda claimed that massive tampering of witnesses had taken place, forcing some of them to either withdraw from the case or recant their initial statements.
She states that at least 16 witnesses out of the 42 which the prosecution had lined up to testify against the DP have pulled out of the case.
“No fewer than 16 of the Prosecution’s 42 original witnesses have withdrawn their cooperation with the OTP and refused to testify, most citing threats, intimidation and/or fears of reprisals. Several of these witnesses also recanted the contents of the statements they had made to the Prosecution, the contents of which the Prosecution had intended to lead in this trial,” she stated.
She said they may have included journalist Walter Barasa, whom the prosecution wants extradited to face charges of witness tampering.