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Ruto and Sang case: Trial to open in The Hague

Reported by Monica Achode


Situation: Situation in the Republic of Kenya

Case: The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang

On July 15th 2013, the Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided, in a plenary session, that the commencement of the trial against William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang would take place at the seat of the Court in The Hague, the Netherlands, rejecting the joint defence request to hold hearings in Kenya or in Tanzania. The trial is scheduled to commence on 10 September 2013, in the presence of the accused.

On 24 January 2013, the Defence teams in the case regarding Mr Ruto and Mr Sang requested the Court to hold the hearings for this trial in Kenya or, alternatively, in Arusha (Tanzania). The possibility of holding in situ hearings is enshrined in articles 3(3) and 62 of the Rome Statute and Rule 100 of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

Article 3 of the Rome Statute in on the seat of the Court and reads as follows:

  1. The seat of the Court shall be established at The Hague in the Netherlands (“the host State”).
  2. The Court shall enter into a headquarters agreement with the host State, to be approved by the Assembly of States Parties and thereafter concluded by the President of the Court on its behalf.
  3. The Court may sit elsewhere, whenever it considers it desirable, as provided in this Statute.

Article 62 deals with the place of trial and states:

  1. Unless otherwise decided, the place of the trial shall be the seat of the Court.

Having received the observations of the other parties and participants, as well as from relevant national authorities, and the ICC Registry’s remarks on the feasibility of in situ hearings, the Trial Chamber recommended to the Presidency that it would be desirable to hold the commencement of trial and other portions thereof in Kenya or in Tanzania.

The Judges, while in principle in favour of bringing the ICC’s proceedings closer to the affected communities, concluded that the proceedings in this instance would be held at the ICC’s headquarters. The Judges reached this conclusion after an extensive discussion that considered the observations of all the parties and participants, the ICC Registry’s assessment as well as the positions of the relevant national authorities. In their consideration of the matter, the Judges took into account numerous factors, such as security, the cost of holding proceedings outside The Hague, the potential impact on victims and witnesses, the length of the proceedings to be held away from the seat of the Court, the potential impact on the perception of the Court and the impact on the Court’s ability to conduct and support other proceedings that are taking place simultaneously at the seat of the Court.

The full plenary decision will be filed in due course.

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