The International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided it will make a simultaneous ruling on whether the two Kenya cases shall proceed to trial.
Ekaterina Trendafilova, sitting as the Single Judge for Pre-Trial Chamber II, made the decision Wednesday after the court had received all the final submissions in the first Kenya case. Pre-trial hearings for the two Kenya cases were held with a 13 day lag between each raising the possibility Pre-Trial Chamber II could issue decisions on separate dates.
“The Registrar has drawn the attention of the Single Judge to the fact that if the article 61(7) decisions in the two cases are issued separately, and whatever is decided in the first case, it is likely that a rise in tension may occur, and speculations or potentially heated public debate might take place with an expectation of the same result in the second case,” said Trendafilova, explaining the reason behind her decision.
“Thus, according to the Registrar, issuing the decisions simultaneously could make a significant difference on how the Kenyan population reacts to the decisions,” the judge continued.
Judge Trendafilova did not give a date for when the simultaneous decisions can be expected. However, she based her decision on a provision in the court’s regulation that allow judges to vary the time limit on rulings if there is “good cause.” Judge Trendafilova said that the decision was to extend the time limit to make a decision in the first Kenya case so that it can be made at the same time as the second case.
Lawyers for the victims in both cases have said that it would be in the interest of their clients if the judges determined the two cases at the same time.
The Single Judge also reiterated her appeal made earlier this month to all Kenyans, “to respect the life, security and property of victims and witnesses and to refrain from engaging in any activities that are likely to trigger or exacerbate tension and violence in the Republic of Kenya”.
Final submissions were received from all parties in the first Kenya case on Monday, which automatically set the clock on a 60 day deadline for Pre-Trial Chamber II to issue a decision on whether the suspects should stand trial. The submissions follow confirmation of charges hearings that were held between September 1 and September 8. The suspects in the first case are former Higher Education Minister William Samoei Ruto, former Industrialization Minister Henry Kiprono Kosgey, and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. The ICC prosecutor wants each of them charged with three counts of crimes against humanity.
The confirmation of charges hearings in the second Kenya case only concluded earlier this month, which means that the deadline for final submissions is yet to be reached. The suspects in the second case are Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kirimi Muthaura, and former police chief Mohammed Hussain Ali. The ICC prosecutor wants each of them charged with five counts of crimes against humanity.