ICC prosecution applies for closed session hearings
The prosecution team at the International Criminal Court (ICC) applied for closed hearing sessions in the ongoing cases against Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang as a measure to protect witness who are scheduled to testify against the two in the proceedings.
The application follows activities in the Kenyan Parliament in which both the National Assembly and the Senate Assembly tabled motions to repeal the Rome Statute and withdraw from the ICC over what they termed as unfair treatment of citizens of a sovereign state.
Prosecutor Anton Steynberg told the court that the move to withdraw the country from the ICC had implications on the witness despite being unable to state the magnitude of the withdrawal on them.
“Two witnesses who have dropped out raised concerns over Kenya's plan to pull out from Rome Statute,” said Steynberg adding that the chamber should take measures to ensure witnesses are protected.
Lawyer Karim Khan who is representing DP William Ruto said that the resolution by the Kenyan Parliament to withdraw was just a legal resolution that has no force and therefore lacked relevance to the ongoing case.
Khan added that many of the prosecution’s witnesses are out of Kenya, and are therefore in no danger. He, Khan concluded by saying that sessions in the court should be held in open court, unless there are genuine concerns in which case, Khan submitted that the level of concern should be determined on individual basis of all the witnesses.
Lawyer Katwa Kigen who is acting on behalf of former radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang reiterated Khan’s assertion saying that rather than giving blanket protection, cases should be considered individually. “Blanket protection amounts to re-writing the law,” said Kigen.
Lawyer Wilfred Nderitu who is representing the victims of the post election violence of 2007-2008 said that the resolution to withdraw isolates both witnesses and victims and further outlaws their participation with the court. The presiding judges will make a ruling on the applications by the prosecution. The trial resumes tomorrow at 11am.