A trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has granted Deputy President William Samoei Ruto a further adjournment of his trial so he can attend a prayer meeting for the victims of the siege of a shopping mall in Kenya.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said Friday that the judges of Trial Chamber V(a) expected Ruto to be in court on Wednesday next week when his trial hearing resumes with the testimony of the first prosecution witness. Trial Chamber V(a) declined to grant a further adjournment of two weeks, which Ruto’s lawyers had requested for.
Ruto had already been granted an adjournment on Monday so he could return to Kenya and help with the efforts at ending the siege of the Westgate Mall that began on Saturday. The siege ended this Tuesday with the government saying that 61 civilians and six soldiers were killed and five terrorists dead. The Kenya Red Cross has said that more than 60 people are still missing.
Judge Eboe-Osuji also said on Friday that the break that had been scheduled from October 7 to October 11 was cancelled. He said the court would continue its hearings that week, except for October 9 when other cases before the ICC will be using the courtroom.
Trial Chamber V(a) allowed the further adjournment so Ruto could attend a prayer service of all faiths in Kenya for the victims of the Westgate Mall killings. The prayer service is scheduled for Tuesday, October 1.
“The Chamber believes that that service is an important event aimed at national reconciliation and healing with regards to what happened,” Eboe-Osuji said.
Earlier Friday, the Appeals Chamber declined to reconsider its decision to require Ruto attend all his trial hearings until appeals judges have determined a prosecution challenge to a lower court’s decision to excuse the deputy president from some sessions.
The Appeals Chamber said that according to the majority decision of Trial Chamber V(a), Ruto would not be attending the trial now as opening statements had been made. The Appeals Chambers further said that if it determined to rule in favor of the prosecution’s appeal it may be difficult to turn back the clock if it became necessary for the trial to restart in Ruto’s presence because some witnesses who may have already testified may not wish to return to court.