Trial of Ruto and Sang resumes but largely closed to the public

This week’s trial hearings of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have largely been closed to the public.

The hearings resumed on Thursday after the December judicial recess to almost immediately go into closed session. The hearing was briefly open to the public for introductions. It was later open to the public for approximately 50 minutes of submissions by different lawyers on their preferences on how many weeks the hearings should run for before a break. Friday’s hearing was similarly held in closed session for much of the day.

Ruto was not present in court on Thursday and Friday because Trial Chamber V(a) ruled that he could be absent, so he could deputise for President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta who was out of Kenya attending a leaders’ meeting in Angola. The judges, however, said that they expected Ruto to be present in court Monday through Wednesday next week.

This is in line with a decision they made on Wednesday this week in response to an application Ruto’s lawyers had made. They asked the court to allow Ruto to be absent from the remaining part of his trial. The judges granted Ruto a conditional excusal order. Among the nine conditions they set was that he needs to sign a waiver of his right to be present at trial, and he will be required to be present on the first five days whenever his trial resumes after a judicial recess. The judges made an oral ruling on Wednesday on the matter and said that they will issue a written decision explaining their reasons later.

On Friday, Trial Chamber V(a) said that the current hearings will run until January 31.