Hague court asks its registrar to consider video link in Ruto trial

Tuesday April 2 2013

From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, William Ruto and President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. Photos | AFP and FILE |

From left: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Deputy President designate William Ruto and President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. Photos | AFP and FILE |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ERIC SHIMOLI [email protected] AND KEVIN J KELLEY in New York [email protected]

The International Criminal Court has directed its registrar to file details on how Deputy President-elect William Ruto can stand trial via video link.

The registrar was directed to give submissions on the reliability of equipment and the connection between the court in The Hague and the venue where the two will attend court. He has also been instructed to give details of a venue where the equipment will be installed in Nairobi or the region and whether Mr Ruto will be able to attend court sessions from the venue via video link.

President-Elect Uhuru Kenyatta — who is also facing crimes against humanity charges — had also asked the court to be allowed to attend session via video link. His case was not mentioned on Tuesday.

The other suspect, Mr Joshua arap Sang, has been attending sessions at The Hague.

At the height of the presidential campaigns ahead of the March 4 election, Mr Kenyatta’s and Mr Ruto’s defence teams had requested that the two be allowed to appear via video link to enable them run the country, if elected.

Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Christine Van den Wyngaert and Chile Eboe-Osuji gave the registrar until Tuesday to file the replies.

The judges also asked the registry to make public submissions by lawyers for the victims in reply to the request for Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto to appear via video link.

The submissions had been made under seal, meaning the suspects and the public could not get full details.

Meanwhile, a US State Department official said on Monday that his country “will look carefully at the actions of Kenya’s leaders and government” in the coming months. “We cannot ignore the serious charges that have been set out in the ICC indictment, and will calibrate our engagement accordingly,” the department’s spokesperson for African affairs, Ms Hilary Renner, said.

Her comments in an e-mail message to the Nation suggest that the Obama administration intends to make good on earlier warnings by its top Africa diplomat of “consequences” that would ensue for US relations with Kenya if certain candidates — understood to be Mr Kenyatta and Mr Ruto — were elected.

The State Department did not specify how it will “calibrate” US engagement with a Kenya led by a president and deputy facing trial on charges of crimes against humanity.

Meanwhile, Germany has joined the list of nations that have congratulated Mr Kenyatta for being elected Kenya’s fourth President.

The German president, Mr Joachim Gauck, acknowledged President-elect Kenyatta and pledged his support for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya. He also commended the country for a peaceful election of members of the bicameral Parliament, governors and the county assembly representatives.

“Together with the Kenyan people, we are happy about the largely peaceful conduct of the elections,” he said and expressed his optimism that the country would tread on a democratic path and drive successful development.

Germany was instrumental in the crafting of the current devolved government adopted by Kenya.

Additional reporting by Benjamin Muindi