ICC judges issue September date for suspects

Eldoret North MP William Ruto (left, back row), Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey (centre, back row) and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang (right, back row), three Kenyans being charged in connection with post-election violence in 2007-2008, during their hearing on April 7, 2011 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague. Photo/AFP

What you need to know:

  • ICC judges warn Ocampo Six that warrants if arrests will be issued against them if they engage in inciting speeches.
  • ICC judges set Sept 1 as the date when hearings on confirmation of post election violence charges against Ruto, Kosgey and Sang shall start.

Three of the six key post election violence have made their initial appearance before the International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber and will know whether they will stand trial starting September 1.

Eldoret North MP William Ruto, his Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang were represented by their lawyers at the sombre event at The Hague.

The hearing was meant to make aware to the suspects the charges facing the three, who ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo believes bear the greatest responsibility for the chaos that left 1,133 people dead and a further 650,00 uprooted from their homes.

The prosecution read the charges to the suspects: There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Ruto, Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang committed crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution in Kiambaa, Huruma, Langas, Nandi in the Rift Valley.

The Chamber also asked the suspects if they were aware of their rights, which they answered in the affirmative. In effect, the suspects are innocent until proven guilty, they have the right to access material incriminating them and right to rebut the charges. Further, there will be no undue delay to prosecute them if the court proceedings go to full trial.

Mr Ruto made a pitch to protest his innocence at the earliest opportunity dismissing the alleged charges as "a movie".

However, presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova cut him short telling him that he will be given adequate time to absolve himself.

The judges told the suspects that the confirmation hearing of the charges they are alleged to have committed will start on September 1.

On Friday, it will be the turn of three of the Ocampo Six, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and Postmaster General Hussein Ali to make their initial appearance.

Below are excerpts of nation.co.ke live coverage of the initial appearance for Mr Ruto, Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang.

11: 40 The Judge thanks the parties for conducting themselves professionally and calls to a close the initial appearance of Ruto, Kosgey and Sang.

11: 38 Judge Trendafilova tells the registry to make arrangements for the status conference at 9am on April 18.

11:36 She says ten days will be enough to provide this information.

11: 34 Defence invited to indicate whether they intend to provide rebuttal documents and if they will call witnesses.

11: 33 At the conference, she says the prosecutor should make available an estimate of overall amount of documents he wants to use in the confirmation hearing, witnesses he intends to call and their statements.

11: 31 Judge Trendafilova says a status conference would be necessary on April 18 and the prosecutor, defence and registry are welcome but and informs the suspects they need not appear.

11: 30 Mr Hooper for Ruto says he has just been informed of the confirmation date and requests if it can be brought forward but the Judge tells him it is beneficial to his client.

11: 27 Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo says he requests full disclosure.

11:26 Judge says the Chamber has set September 1 as date of confirmation of charges hearing, but she says the date may be subject to change.

11: 24 She says if Chamber satisfied with evidence it will set a trial date.

11: 23 Judge: You will have adequate time to prepare your defence, no undue delay to be prosecuted if case goes to trial.

11: 22 Judge Trendafilova tells the suspects they are innocent until proven guilty , the right to access material incriminating them, right to rebut the charges.

11: 20 Mr Kosgey and Mr Sang say they have been informed of their rights, but Sang claims one has been broken.

11:19 Mr Ruto says his lawyers have had occasion to inform him of his rights and again protests his innocence.

11:17 The judge asks the suspects if they have been informed of their rights.

11: 15 Mr Sang says he had been informed of the charges.

11: 13 Mr Kosgey says that he has been "sufficiently informed" but the details of the crimes have not been provided to him.

11:10 The Judge tells Mr Ruto that he is represented by able lawyers and that he will have an opportunity to raise his arguments.

Ruto: Your honour my rights have been explained and I have had occasion to read. Counsel have also explained the rights to me. I need to have full knowledge of allegations and who made them to enable me respond. Why this has not been done puzzles us. I believe I could have been better prepared to respond. As said earlier, I am innocent. For us to be dragged all this way puzzles us.

11: 08 Mr Ruto says the charges read like a movie script.

11: 06 Mr Ruto says he has been "sufficiently informed" of his alleged crimes and says that he has made a prior but unsuccessful move to rebut the charges at The Hague.

11:05 Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova asks the suspects if they are sufficiently informed of the crimes they have allegedly committed.

11:03 Sang: There are reasonable grounds to believe that he committed crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution in Kiambaa, Huruma, Langas, Nandi in the Rift Valley.

11: 02 Kosgey: There are reasonable grounds to believe that he committed crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution in Kiambaa, Huruma, Langas, Nandi in the Rift Valley.

10:59 The prosecution inform Ruto of the charges facing him: There are reasonable grounds to believe that he committed crimes against humanity of murder, forcible transfer of population and persecution in Kiambaa, Huruma, Langas, Nandi in the Rift Valley.

10: 56 She says that the suspects are not on trial and their appearance is not a confirmation of charges but a hearing to satisfy that the suspects know what they are charged with and their rights.

Judge: We have been reading in the news media about hate speech. We would like to make it clear that we are not referring to anyone in particular but this should be a matter of concern to all. Such speeches could be seen as a breach of the conditions set by the court.

Accordingly we would point out that could constitute a breach of the conditions set out for the summonses to appear and might lead to the summons replaced by warrants of arrest. I would like to point out that this is neither a trial or confirmation of charges hearing. 

No evidence will be adduced and neither will there be any apportioning of guilt or innocence. The subject matter of today's hearings in pre- trial chamber is satisfy ourselves that the suspects have been informed of the alleged crime, they have been informed of their rights and to set a date when we intend to start holding hearings for confirmation of charges.

10:54 Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova says that statements attributed to the suspects may be construed as carrying out crimes and may substitute summonses with warrants of arrest.

10:52 The judge says the Bench says it expects the suspects to cooperate and it will not hesitate to impose sanctions in the event of any deviation.

10:49 Mr Sang says he was born in Cherengany and describes himself as "an innocent journalist" working with Kass FM..

10:47 Its Mr Kosgey's turn. He says that he was born in 1947 in Nandi County and is currently MP for Tinderet.

10:45 The presiding judge says that the court is satisfied that Mr Ruto is proficient in the English language.

10:44 Mr Ruto is given the opportunity to introduce himself. He says he was born in 1966 at Kamagut village in Uasin Gichu County and says he is a member of Parliament for Eldoret North.

10:42 The presiding judge introduces the Bench.

10:39 Kosgey lead counsel George Oraro introduces his team followed by Katwa Kigen, Sang's lead.

10: 37 The Eldoret North MP confirms that he will be represented by Mr Hooper

10:36 Ruto's lead counsel David Hooper introduces his team and the judge ask Ruto to confirm if he has given him the power of attorney.

10:35 The Judge directs that the defence team to inroduce themselves starting with Ruto, Kosgey and Sang in that order.

10:33 ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo introduces the team that will prosecute the three suspects.

10: 32 The presiding judges gives the parties time to introduce themselves.

10:30 A battery of photojournalist are given one minute to take pictures of the suspects

10: 25 Three of the Ocampo Six are in the dock as the journey to justice for the victims of Kenya’s election violence takes off.

Eldoret North MP William Ruto ,Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and vernacular radio presenter Joshua Sang are appearing before the Pre-Trial Chamber judges.

Additional reporting by Eric Shimoli, The Hague