October 2013 (THE HAGUE) – Kenya’s Vice President William Ruto was on Friday warned by the presiding judge in his trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to desist from making statements about the case in the media or risk being arrested and detained.
‘‘The first time this happened [making statement in the media] his counsel [Ruto’s] apologised and said it was a mistake said Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji.
Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, a Nigerian, cautioned Ruto that if he does not heed to the warning, he could be arrested and detained by the court in The Hague.
The warning comes two weeks after Ruto addressed a press conference in The Hague in which he attacked the court and the prosecutor.
‘‘It’s abundantly clear to us and that’s why we have filed several applications that this case as it runs should be terminated. The prosecution has failed miserably in its responsibility to discharge the mandate assigned to them under the Rome Statute,” he said.
Judges have issued a similar warning to the media after the identity of a woman who testified under protection before the court was revealed by bloggers.
Ruto and former journalist Arap Sang are jointly accused of crimes against humanity.
Also accused of the same crime is Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin in November but he has made an application to the court to stop it.
The charges against the Kenyan trio relate to the 2007-2008 electoral violence in which 1,200 people died and 600,000 were displaced.
On Friday the Appeals Chamber also reversed an earlier ruling by trial judges granting Ruto absence from some of the hearings in the case against him.
Ruto had been granted leave by trial judges on June 18. But the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, appealed against the ruling, saying the judges had acted outside of their discretion.
The Appeals Chamber agreed with the prosecutor.
‘‘Holding that the excusal of an accused from physical presence at trial should not become the rule, the Appeals Chamber unanimously reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision of 18 June 2013, which granted a conditional excusal for William Samoei
Ruto from continuous presence at his trial,’’ said presiding Judge Sang-Hyun Song who read a summary of the court ruling on behalf of the other judges.
The judges also ruled that in granting Ruto leave from some of the seating, the Trial Chamber did not explore other options.