It remains unclear whether Witness 727 appeared or testified last week before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The lack of clarity is because all the deliberations Trial Chamber V (a) held with the different legal teams were entirely closed to the public, and there has been no official communication on what happened last week in court.
A lawyer for Witness 727, Professor Goran Sluiter, declined to respond to questions on whether his client appeared before Trial Chamber V (a) or testified.
“Unfortunately, in the interests of our client we cannot comment on the actual developments,” Sluiter said in an e-mail on Tuesday to the International Justice Monitor.
This week Trial Chamber V (a) had been scheduled to hold hearings through Wednesday. That changed on Monday afternoon. The ICC’s online calendar, which shows trials scheduled for the current week, changed on Monday afternoon to reflect that there would be no hearings. So far there has been no official communication about this change.
When the trial of Ruto and Sang resumed last week, Witness 727 was scheduled to testify via video link. The court’s calendar showed last week that the hearings were scheduled to continue until Wednesday this week. The witness was expected to testify during this period after the chamber ordered in February that he do so.
Trial Chamber V (a) sat for each day last week but as of Wednesday the witness had not testified. The chamber held sittings on Thursday and Friday as well, but it is unclear if the witness appeared before it on those days.
When a witness testifies but the hearing is closed to the public, the court’s public affairs unit will usually issue a statement to the media explaining that it will not be circulating any audio-visual material of the proceedings because the hearing was held in private or closed session. In the case of Witness 727, the unit issued one such a statement on Monday last week. For the rest of the week the unit did not issue any statements.
On Tuesday last week, Witness 727’s lawyers issued a statement saying he was in hiding after a Dutch court issued an order requiring him to appear before the ICC in line with Trial Chamber V (a)’s order. It is unclear whether the witness is still in hiding.
Depending on what transpired in court, Trial Chamber V (a) may issue new orders. What happens next in the Ruto and Sang trial will become known after the Spring recess. The ICC goes on its Spring recess from Thursday until April 13. During the recess there will be no hearings.
So far 29 prosecution witnesses have testified in the trial of Ruto and Sang, who face charges for their alleged roles in the violence that followed the December 2007 presidential poll. Ruto and Sang each face three counts of crimes against humanity. Witness 727 is not the only witness Trial Chamber V (a) has ordered be compelled to appear before it. Last year, the chamber issued similar orders for at least nine other witnesses. Of those only four have testified to date.