On 10 September 2013, the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang opened in the presence of the accused before Trial Chamber V(a) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.
Mr Ruto and Mr Sang are accused of crimes against humanity (murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution) allegedly committed in Kenya in the context of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The trial is held before Trial Chamber V(a) composed of Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji (presiding), Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Judge Robert Fremr.
The trial’s opening started with the reading of the charges against William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang. Upon receiving confirmation from each leading Defence Counsel, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji was satisfied that the accused understood the nature of the charges. Both accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. The Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and trial lawyer Anton Steynberg took the floor for opening statements, followed by the Legal Representatives of Victims Wilfred Nderitu, and by Mr Ruto’s Defence Counsel Karim Khan.
The hearings will resume tomorrow with the opening statement of Mr Sang’s Defence Counsel Joseph Kipchumba Kigen-Katwa and will continue on Tuesday, 17 September until 4 October and subsequently from 14 October to 1 November 2013. The hearings in this trial are not scheduled to overlap with those in the second trial related to investigations in Kenya, The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, which is to open on 12 November 2013. Instead, the two trials will be scheduled to alternate in periods of four weeks minimum. Detailed hearing schedules in the cases will be issued by ICC judges in due course.
The trial in the Ruto and Sang case is expected to take several months. During the first part, the Office of the Prosecutor will be presenting the evidence at the Prosecution’s disposal, submitting to the attention of the judges a large number of documents which it has compiled in the case, as well as video footage. The Prosecution will also call witnesses to testify. When the Prosecution has finished examining each witness, the Defence Counsel is given the opportunity to cross-examine the witness.
Once the Prosecution has presented all its evidence, which will take a few months, it is the turn of the accused, with the assistance of their Counsel, to present their defence. The Defence will call a number of witnesses to support their case. These will be examined by the Defence and cross-examined by the Prosecution. 327 persons are participating as victims in the case and are represented by their Legal Representative, Wilfred Nderitu, who will present their views and concerns in the Courtroom.
Judges will ensure that the trial is fair and expeditious and is conducted with full respect for the rights of the defence, the equality of arms and the principle of adversarial debate, having further due regard for the protection of victims and witnesses.
At the end of the hearings, the judges of Trial Chamber V(a) will give their decision within a reasonable period of time. This decision will be pronounced in public: it will either acquit or condemn each of the accused. The various parties to the trial will, if need be, be able to appeal the decision before the ICC’s Appeals Chamber.