Victory for DP William Ruto, Joshua Sang as ICC terminates their case
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has terminated the crimes against humanity case against Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Arap Sang.
In its decision, the ICC cited witness interference and political meddling in its ruling.
“The proceedings are declared a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling,” said the ICC statement.
“The charges are hereby vacated and the accused are discharged from the process, without prejudice to the presumption of innocence or the prosecutor’s right to re-prosecute the case at a later time.”
The ICC Trial Chamber said: “The victims should be invited to express views and concerns in relation to reparation or assistance in liue of reparation.”
Two out of the three Trial Chamber judges ruled in favour of Ruto and Sang, while one
“The Trial Chamber V(A) of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) decided, by majority, that the case against William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang is to be terminated,” read the ICC statement.
“According to the majority, this decision does not preclude new prosecution in the future either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction. This decision may be subject to appeal.”
ICC said that it considered the requests made by Ruto and Sang to dismiss the charges against both accused and enter a judgment of acquittal. It also considered opposing submissions from the Prosecutor and the victims’ Legal Representative.
“On the basis of the evidence and arguments submitted to the Chamber, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judge Robert Fremr, as the majority, agreed that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged,” read the ICC statement.
Judge Fremr found that there is no case for the accused to answer based on an assessment of the Prosecution’s evidence in accordance with the Trial Chamber’s Decision of June 3rd, 2014, which outlined the principles and procedure for the Defence’s submissions of no case to answer.
In his view, the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused. Accordingly, he considered that there is no reason to call the Defence to bring their case or to prolong the proceedings any further.
Judge Eboe-Osuji, concurring with Judge Fremr’s evidential assessment, also vacated the charges and discharged the accused without prejudice to re-prosecution in the future. However, he declared a mistrial in the case, because it cannot be discounted that the weaknesses in the Prosecution case might be explained by the demonstrated incidence of tainting of the trial process by way of witness interference and political meddling that was reasonably likely to intimidate witnesses. In his opinion, Judge Eboe-Osuji also discussed several matters including reparations, immunities and elements of the “crimes against humanity” definition.
The majority of the Chamber, having concluded that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused, also concluded that a judgment of acquittal was not the right outcome, but only vacation of the charges and discharge of the accused. The majority also agreed that there is no reason to re-characterise the charges.
Judge Herrera Carbuccia appended a dissenting opinion. In her view, the charges against both accused should not be vacated in the present case as such outcome departs from the legal standard established in the Trial Chamber’s Decision of June 3rd, 2014. Judge Herrera Carbuccia considered that the Prosecution case had not ‘broken down’ and she concluded that there is sufficient evidence upon which, if accepted, a reasonable Trial Chamber could convict the accused.
Ruto and Sang were accused of crimes against humanity including murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution allegedly committed in the context of the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
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