Published On: Thu, May 23rd, 2013

Presiding judge over Ruto\Sang case quits

ICC cultureA new judge will now preside in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang after Judge Kuniko Ozaki asked to be excused.

Ozaki will continue to be the presiding judge in the second case against President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The two Kenyan cases have been handled by the same judges since their charges were confirmed in January 2012.

Yesterday, the ICC presidency said that there will now be two trial chambers with judges Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe-Osuji serving in both Trial Chamber V(a) for Ruto and Trial Chamber V(b) for Uhuru.

“The decision of the Presidency was taken to ensure the proper administration of justice, taking into consideration each Judge’s workload,” a statement from the ICC said yesterday.

On May 2, Ozaki said that the workload had become excessive and asked to be excused from the case against Ruto and Sang.

She has also been handling the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

“The two Kenya cases have involved an unprecedented volume of filings from the parties, requiring a number of judicial orders and decisions. Significantly, the volume of filings has continued to increase as the trial commencement dates draw nearer, to the point where it is no longer possible for me to review and decide on all of the issues raised in both cases,” Ozaki told the ICC Presidency.

She added that it is not humanly possible to sit in three simultaneous trials, even setting aside the unique demands of the Kenya cases.

The judge also said that the parties to the Kenyan cases had also raised the issue of her workload.

“In coming to this conclusion the Presidency took particular note of its previous decision in the Bemba case and the current and anticipated workload of the Judge i.e. the fact that the three trials will overlap when they commence, the substantial size of those three cases and the availability of other judges,” the presidency said in its decision.

Meanwhile, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was ordered on Monday to disclose more information about her witnesses against Ruto and Sang, including the identities of their family members, 60 days before the start of trial.

The ICC is yet to set another a new date for Ruto’s trial after agreeing with Ruto and Sang that the May 28 start date was no longer viable due to delayed disclosure of evidence by the the prosecution.

The court added that the witness information should only be disclosed to the defence if it is relevant to the case, which so far has not happened.

According to the Redactions Protocol, category B2 redactions are for family members of witnesses, and category B3 redactions are for other persons at risk.

The court ordered Bensouda to disclose forthwith any remaining screening notes of witnesses whom it intends to call for trial with minimal redactions.

The judges also said that they found the security risks identified by Bensouda to be too generalised.

“The general rule articulated in the Protocol is that identities are subject to disclosure unless there is an objectively justifiable risk to the safety of the concerned persons,” the judges said.

Ruto and Sang had told the judges that it was becoming impossible to prepare for trial and investigate prosecution witnesses as the screening notes were too redacted.

Bensouda indicated that she needed more time to properly assess the risks to her witnesses but the judges insisted that their identities should be disclosed 60 days before the trial.

“The Chamber acknowledges that this disclosure deadline has been altered in view of its recent decision vacating the trial date, but stresses that the Prosecution must endeavour to complete its assessments as soon as possible,” the judges said.-The Star

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