Judges adjourn hearings for one week because of mall attack in Kenya

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have adjourned the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang for a week to allow the deputy president to return to Kenya to help resolve the siege of a shopping mall during which more than 60 have been killed.

Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said on Monday, on behalf of his fellow judges, that they expressed their deepest sympathies with the victims of the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

“There is never a justification for such acts against innocent people,” he said.

Trial Chamber V(a) made its decision on the adjournment in two stages. First, the judges addressed whether they could excuse Ruto so he could return to Kenya immediately to join the efforts to end the siege of Westgate Mall. Al-Shabaab, an extremist Islamic Somali group, has claimed responsibility for the siege that began on Saturday. Authorities have said that as of early Monday, 62 people had been killed in the siege. Trial Chamber V(a) granted Ruto one week to return to Kenya, as opposed to the two weeks his lawyers had applied for.

The chamber then considered whether to adjourn the trial proceedings for the two week period that Ruto’s lawyers had requested in the application they filed on Sunday. Sang’s lawyer supported the adjournment application. The prosecution did not object to a short adjournment given the circumstances. The lawyer for victims also did not object to an adjournment.

Judge Eboe-Osuji said that the trial proceedings would be adjourned for one week, and the court would hold another status conference this coming Friday to listen to any applications, including one that Ruto’s lawyers may choose to make to seek another week’s adjournment for their client.