By Journalists For Justice
Judges at the International Criminal Court have terminated the crimes against humanity charges facing Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang after a 30-month trial.
“The proceedings are declared a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and troubling political meddling,” wrote Presiding Judge Eboe-Osuji in a 258-page judgment, supported by Judge Robert Fremr. Judge Olga Herrera-Carbucia disagreed, saying the prosecution case had not entirely collapsed. She argued that there was evidence of murder in Kiambaa and Huruma in Eldoret, and forcible transfer of populations in Kapsapbet, Kiambaa, Yamumbi, Huruma and Turbo, with which Ruto and Sang were charged with masterminding.
Over the 157 days the trial lasted, the judges heard testimony from 30 prosecution witnesses, including two experts. At least 12 witnesses the prosecution expected to rely on to prove its case withdrew citing intimidation and fear. Another five witnesses were compelled to testify, but contradicted their earlier statements. They were also declared hostile. After the trial chamber admitted their earlier recorded testimony, the Appeals bench struck down their testimonies, leaving the Prosecution case greatly weakened.
The judges terminated the case, but said the prosecution was free to restart it with fresh evidence.
Victims’ lawyer Wilfred Nderitu said he was disappointed with the judgment, but expressed hope that the prosecutor would appeal.
Ruto and Sang were charged with crimes against humanity – including murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution — committed in the context of the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya.
Three warrants of arrest have been issued in connection with the case for alleged witness tampering but have not been executed. Journalist Walter Barasa, lawyer Paul Gicheru and farmer Philip Bett are yet to be extradited to The Hague.