Saturday, 27 April 2013

Prove cooperation with ICC prosecutor, judges tell Kenya

Deputy President William Ruto wants the start of his trial at The Hague postponed. Photo/FILE

Deputy President William Ruto wants the start of his trial at The Hague postponed. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP
Posted  Friday, April 26  2013 at  23:30
Deputy President William Ruto wants the start of his trial at The Hague postponed.
Mr Ruto, whose case at the International Criminal Court was set to commence on May 28, has requested the Trial Chamber V judges to set a new date “not earlier than November 2013”.
In a new application filed through lawyer Karim Khan, the Deputy President made the request to enable his defence team adequate time to conduct investigations necessary to properly prepare for his trial.
Said Mr Khan in the application dated April 25: “The Defence of Mr William Samoei Ruto respectfully requests the Trial Chamber vacate the scheduled May 28, 2013 commencement date of trial.”
Mr Khan argued that the request arose from the failure by Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to provide timely and effective disclosure of witnesses.
He accused Ms Bensouda of failing to disclose the identity of one of her witnesses until April 17.
Ms Bensouda, added Mr Khan, further delayed until the first week of April, the disclosure of audio records of interviews of four of her witnesses amongst others.
“The OTP’s continued dilatory disclosure to the Defence as well as its general approach to the prosecution of this case has rendered the May 28 date absolutely unviable if the fair trial rights of Mr Ruto are to be guaranteed,” said Mr Khan.
Mr Khan attempted to justify the rationale behind their request arguing that the chamber had on March 8 this year postponed the original trial commencement date of April 10 to May 28 “so that the defence could continue its investigations”.
The lawyer said to date, Ms Bensouda had failed to disclose the identity of witness P-0534 to the defence despite the fact that the chamber had ordered that this be done by March 13.
“Accordingly, the Defence remains unable to review the witness’s un-redacted statements and then plan and conduct investigation into the witness.”
Ms Bensouda, in another submission to the court dated April 25, admitted that she had not disclosed the identity of the witness.
Meanwhile, the Trial Chamber judges at The Hague have given the government 12 days to justify its cooperation with investigations into the 2007/08 post-election violence.
The decision of the International Criminal Court came as lawyers for post-election violence victims opposed a request by Deputy President Ruto to be tried via video link.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai had written to the court complaining that Ms Bensouda had repeatedly made claims that Kenya had not been cooperating with her office.
In a detailed submission to the Trial Chamber V dated April 8, the AG wanted the court to order that such complaints against the government must be made “on notice” for them to have ample time to respond.
However, on Wednesday, the Trial Chamber asked the government to make its application and gave the parties to the two cases 14 days to respond to the submissions once the filing was done.
“Given the desirability of fully understanding the status of cooperation between organs of the Court and the Government of Kenya, the Chamber considers it appropriate to grant it leave to file observations on this issue and, further, to accept the submissions in the application,” said the judges.
Use of video link
Common legal representative of the victims Wilfred Nderitu said the use of video link was restricted to the pre-trial stage of proceedings.
In a submission to the court, Mr Nderitu said while the use of video link was available for a “witness or suspect” at the pre-trial phase, the rules of procedure did not contain any provisions for an “accused” person at the trial stage to waive his rights to be present and substitute this right with the use of video link.
In the submission obtained by the Saturday Nation on Friday, Mr Nderitu said: “There is no legal justification for the defence request for the use of video link.”

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