The first hearing of the New Year in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was held in private session, except for the discussion of some preliminary issues.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said on Monday that Ruto had been excused from attending hearings of the first witness this year, but he would be expected to be present in court when the next witness is due to testify. Judge Eboe-Osuji said Ruto would be expected to be present in court for five days. The judge did not explain why Ruto had been excused. Since last year, Trial Chamber V(a) has required Ruto be present for five days whenever the court resumes its sittings after a recess. In December, the court adjourned for the winter judicial recess and resumed on Monday.
After Judge Eboe-Osuji finished with those preliminaries, he asked the court go into private session. Trial Chamber V(a) later adjourned and resumed in the afternoon, but that session was also closed to the public. It is unclear whether a witness took the stand or the day’s proceedings were taken up by other matters. In a December 22 application, the prosecution had asked the court to hear in private session two of the three witnesses scheduled to testify this month.
Ruto and Sang have been on trial since September 2013. They each face three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the violence that erupted in Kenya after the December 2007 presidential election.