Kenya: ICC Appeals Chamber rules in Ruto’s favour

Joshua Sang and his legal team overwhelmed with joy upon hearing the verdict.

Joshua Sang and his legal team overwhelmed with joy upon hearing the verdict.

The Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled against earlier verdict to use recanted witness testimony in the case involving Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Arap Sang.

Ruto and his team had contested use of retracted statements from five witnesses arguing the amendment to Rule 68 of the Rome Statute can not be applied retroactively since it was made after the case commencement of the trial.

“The prior-recorded testimony was delivered without an opportunity for the accused to cross-examine the witnesses,” the presiding judge, Piotr Hofmanski said at the ruling.

One of the witnesses who withdrew their testimony had implicated Ruto in meetings about buying weapons to commit the alleged killings (2007 killings in the elections related unrest) among others

The ruling means ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda can not use the statements in question dealing a big blow to her case against Ruto and his co-defendant.

“The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided unanimously to reverse the decision of ICC Trial Chamber V(A) of 19 August 2015, which granted the Prosecutor’s request for admission of prior recorded testimony into evidence pursuant to amended rule 68 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE),” ICC statement read in part.

The statement added that “The Appeals Chamber considered that there was nothing in the drafting history of amended rule 68 of the RPE that revealed an error in the conclusion of the Trial Chamber that the amended rule may apply to this case, subject to a consideration of article 51 (4) of the Rome Statute providing that amendments to the RPE shall not be applied retroactively to the detriment of the accused.”

The ruling was welcomed by the two Kenyan defendants as they were seen reacting with jubilation in the court room.

Ruto and Sang are facing charges of crimes against humanity in the 2007 post election violence that claimed over 1000 people displace thousands more. The ICC case originally involved the current Kenyan leader, President Uhuru Kenyatta but his charges have since been dropped by the court.