Judges overseeing the trial of Kenya’s Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang have said they will seek submissions on the rights of an accused person on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji informed trial lawyer Lucio Garcia about this decision just before the court adjourned for its lunch break on Thursday. Judge Eboe-Osuji said the issue has arisen because of the testimony of Witness 613.
“In light of the hearsay that we have heard today, it is something that the chamber will require careful research and submissions on,” Judge Eboe-Osuji said, without indicating when the submissions will be required.
When informing Garcia of the trial chamber’s thinking, Judge Eboe-Osuji asked the prosecutor to look at Article 67 of the Rome Statute, which covers the rights of an accused person before the court. The judge referred him in particular to Article 67(1)(e), which states that the accused must be entitled:
To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him or her and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him or her. The accused shall also be entitled to raise defences and to present other evidence admissible under this Statute.
On Thursday, most of the testimony of Witness 613 was in private session. The few segments of the witness’s testimony that were public covered what she saw on December 31, 2007 and January 1, 2008. The witness was also shown photos of the center of Turbo town and asked to identify certain places. In addition, she was shown a video of what she said was the Turbo police station in which rows of tents could be seen.
Witness 613 described seeing a group of Kalenjin youths going towards Turbo town on the afternoon of December 31, 2007. She said she saw them split up before they reached the police post. The witness added that she did not see whether they were carrying anything, nor did she see what they were doing.
The following day, Witness 613 said she saw buildings in the center of Turbo town burning. She said she did not see who set the houses and shops and other commercial buildings on fire. She said the buildings were not burned all at once, and the fire continued for five days. The witness also said she did not know exactly how many buildings were burned, except to say they were more than 50. Witness 613 told the court she assumed it was Kalenjin youth who set the buildings on fire because of the differences between them, who supported the Orange Democratic Movement party, and the supporters of the rival Party of National Unity.
Garcia showed the witness five photos that he identified were of the centre of Turbo town and asked her to identify what she saw. Witness 613 estimated the photos were taken some time in January 2008 because the buildings were destroyed. She was able to identify a petrol station, a commercial area she said was called garage, and some burned down homes. All the properties she identified she said belonged to Kikuyus.
The witness also identified a video, which she said showed Turbo police station and the people who had sought refuge there. She said the video looked like it was shot in January 2008. Witness 613 had told the court that about 1,000 people, mostly Kikuyus, had sought refuge at the police station when violence broke out in Turbo.
Ruto was present in court on Thursday, as directed by Trial Chamber V(a). In their January 15 oral decision the trial chamber allowed Ruto to be absent from most of his trial hearings, except for the first five days after the court has been on recess. They published their reasoning on the matter on February 18. Ruto was in court when the trial hearings resumed after the Easter recess in April. He was present only for two days because the prosecution withdrew a witness and the court adjourned early. Ruto has not been present since the hearings resumed this week because the court allowed him to be away until Thursday. Ruto will be in court until Monday.
Witness 613 will continue testifying on Friday.