Arusha, January 16, 2014 (FH) – Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto is granted leave of absence from some hearings in his crimes against humanity trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to an oral decision of the Court handed down Wednesday.

0 min 59Approximate reading time

“The Chamber hereby conditionally excuses Mr. Ruto from continuous presence at trial,” said Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji at a status conference before resumption of the trial.

Ruto submitted his request on December 16 on the basis of an amendment to the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence adopted by the Assembly of States Parties at the end of November.

The Kenyan leader must nevertheless be present when witnesses are testifying in person, for the entirety of the closing statements and also for the pronouncement of sentence if he is found guilty.

His presence is also required for the first five days after pauses in the proceedings. But he is excused from hearings this Thursday and Friday because Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is also charged by the ICC, is currently absent from Kenya on a visit to Angola.

William Ruto is the first high ranking leader to be tried by the ICC. The trial, in which he is appearing with radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang, started on September 10.

The two men are accused of playing a leading role in deadly violence that followed elections in their country at the end of 2007.

As for President Kenyatta, whose trial had been due to start in February, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in December requested an indefinite postponement owing to erosion of evidence against the head of state.