Witness 743’s testimony was heard entirely in private session on Tuesday. All that was heard in open court were preliminaries and an application for Deputy President William Samoei Ruto to be allowed to leave the court a half hour early.
Ruto’s lead lawyer, Karim Khan, made the application at the start of the mid-morning session saying Ruto needed to catch a flight back to Kenya so he could be in the country later on Tuesday. Khan said this was necessary because President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is leaving the country on Wednesday morning to attend the first of the African Union’s regular biannual summits.
Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji conferred briefly with Judges Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr and said the chamber would make its ruling later. It is unclear what the chamber decided because the rest of the court’s hearings were in private session. Ruto, however, was still present in court at the start of the afternoon session.
Since January last year, Trial Chamber V(a) has allowed Ruto to be absent from most of the hearings in his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The chamber has made it mandatory that he attends the first five days of hearings that begin after a court recess. The chamber’s decision followed a successful application by Ruto’s lawyer and an amendment to the ICC’s rules of procedure in 2013.
This year, after the winter recess, Ruto did not attend the first five days of hearings that began on January 12. The chamber instead allowed him to be present during the second week of hearings. The chamber then excused him from attending last Thursday’s and Friday’s sittings so he could attend the World Economic Forum. The chamber, however, directed that he should be present in court this week on Monday and Tuesday.
Ruto is on trial on three counts of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential poll. His co-accused, former journalist Joshua arap Sang, also faces three counts of crimes against humanity.
Witness 743 will continue to testify on Wednesday.