Muthaura and Ruto to skip Hague meeting

From left: Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, former head of civil service Francis Muthaura, and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang. William Ruto and Francis Muthaura will skip next month’s meeting at The Hague. Photo/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Unless ordered by the judges, suspects don’t have to be at conference, where lawyers haggle on disclosure and procedure

Eldoret North MP William Ruto and former Civil Service head Francis Muthaura will skip next month’s meeting at The Hague to set ground rules for their trial.

It was not clear whether Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also facing charges of crimes against humanity, will attend the meeting, known in International Criminal Court (ICC) parlance as a status conference.

Sources said Kass FM radio presenter Joshua arap Sang will attend the meeting, whose timing indicated that the trial of the four accused was likely to start before the end of the year.

The four are accused of planning, financing and executing the 2007 post-election violence in which 1,133 people were killed and more than 500,000 driven from their homes.

The ICC’s Trial Chamber judges have set June 11 and 12 as the dates when the trial dates of two cases facing the four Kenyans will be announced.

The conference for the case involving Mr Ruto and Mr Sang is on June 11 while that of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura will be held the following day.

Both meetings will begin at 2pm Kenyan time but the four suspects will not be required to be at The Hague in person. Sources said Mr Ruto and Mr Muthaura would be represented by their lawyers.

The dates were first reported this week by the Sunday Nation although official communication was released on Tuesday.

On average, it has taken between six and eight months for previous cases before the court to start after the status conferences.

In separate orders made on Monday, judges Kuniko Ozaki, Christine Van den Wyngaert and Chile Eboe-Osuji also asked the parties in the cases to make written submissions by May 28 on the issues to be discussed at the conferences.

“If the parties, the legal representatives of victims and the Registry are currently aware of any other issue that is required to be resolved before the commencement of the trial, they should bring it to the attention of the Chamber promptly,” the Trial Chamber judges said in their decision.

Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura have already asked the judges not to start the trials until their appeal on whether they should be tried by the ICC is determined. The Trial Chamber is yet to make a decision on the matter.

The judges added that the parties in the case should also make written submissions on their interpretation in law of the modes of individual criminal responsibility applicable to the case by June 25.

They also said the victims would continue to be provisionally presented by their Pre-Trial Chamber lawyers Sureta Chana and Morris Anyah until a decision was reached on who would take over.

During status conferences, parties determine the date of the trial, languages to be used in the proceedings, in particular, the languages spoken by the witnesses the parties intend to call and the anticipated length of the presentation of evidence at trial.

The Trial Chamber has also given the parties an opportunity to change the agenda of the meeting.

“Should the parties, the legal representatives of victims and the Registry wish to add other items to the agenda of the status conference, they should indicate it in their written submissions,” they said.

The meeting will also determine whether the prosecution anticipates issues concerning the protection of witnesses including the disclosure of their identities.

Additionally, it determines whether a protocol regulating contacts between the parties and protected witnesses called by another party is necessary.

This, according to the judges, will include under what conditions protected witnesses are to be identified, if at all.

The meeting will agree what evidence will be shared, how much of which will be shared and how to deal with information obtained by the prosecution on condition of confidentiality.

Prosecution is to provide a list of all the evidence it has and inform the defence whether it will continue hiding parts of that evidence.

It is also at this meeting that parties will reveal whether they will be calling any experts.

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