In what will be the first time in the history of the International Criminal Court ICC, the trial of a duly elected officially opens in the Hague today September 10 2013 in the presence of the accused. William Ruto, Kenyan Deputy President arrived in The Hague and has said he will try to clear his name after the ICC charged him, President Uhuru Kenyatta and journalist Joshua Arap Sang for crimes against humanity (murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution following post electoral violence in Kenya in 2008 in which more than 1000 people were killed. All three deny the charges.
William Ruto 47, and Joshua Sang 38 have now appeared at their court hearings.
Herewith important Q &A about the trial from the ICC website
Q Why are the two accused being prosecuted before the ICC rather than before
A Kenya is a State Party to the Rome Statute – the Court’s founding treaty – since June 2005. On 31 March 2010, Pre-Trial Chamber II judges granted the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation in Kenya for crimes against humanity committed between 1 June 2005 and 26 November 2009. The Prosecutor intervened following consultation with Kenyan leaders and agreement that impunity was not an option following the post-election violence. Despite several attempts, the Kenyan Parliament did not manage to pass the legislation required to establish a Special Tribunal, to investigate and try those crimes. To date, the government of Kenya has not demonstrated to the ICC judges that it is actually investigating or prosecuting the accused for crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. The ICC is not, under any circumstances, a substitute for domestic criminal justice systems; it only intervenes if the national judicial system is either unwilling or unable to ensure that justice is done
Q. Who are the ICC judges sitting in this case?
A The trial will take place before Trial Chamber V(a), composed of Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria), Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia (Dominican Republic) and Judge Robert Fremr (Czech Republic). The ICC judges are persons of high moral character, impartiality and integrity who possess the qualifications required in their respective States for appointment to the highest judicial offices. They all have extensive experience relevant to the judicial work of the Court and established competence in criminal law and procedure.
Q . Will Mr Ruto and Mr Sang be present at trial?
A In principle, both Mr Ruto and Mr Sang will be present at trial. This might change at a later stage, pending a decision of the Appeal Chamber regarding the possible excusal of Mr Ruto’s presence at trial. It is important to recall that on 18 June 2013, Trial Chamber V(a) issued a decision excusing Mr Ruto from being continuously
physically present at trial, except for specified hearings: the opening and closing statements of all parties and participants and when victims present their views and concerns in person during the trial; the delivery of judgment in the case; and, if applicable, sentencing and reparations; and any other attendance that may be ordered by the Chamber.
This decision has no effect on Mr Sang’s presence at trial, as he did not apply for a similar excusal and has informed the Chamber that he intends to be present throughout the trial
Q. Will the accused persons be detained when they appear before the Court for the commencement of the trial, and will they be allowed to return to Kenya during judicial breaks or recess?
A The accused persons will not be detained when they appear before the ICC. No arrest warrants or restrictions to travel have been issued against the accused. The accused are requested to be present before the judges only during the hearings. The accused remain
free as they have continued to comply with the judges’ orders and conditions. They are not requested to stay in The Hague when hearings are not being held.
Q. Are the witnesses who testify in the trial safe?
A Yes. The Court provides protective measures commensurate with the threats to which witnesses and victims may be exposed as a result of their interaction with the Court. The Registry implements protective measures and security arrangements for witnesses and others who are at risk on account of the ICC proceedings.
Protective measures may, for example, include the anonymity of people participating in the trial, the use of pseudonyms, the redaction of documents or a disclosure ban, or the use of audio-visual techniques to conceal the identity of persons appearing before the Court
(voice distortion and image blurring). As a last resort, protected persons may be admitted to the Court’s Protection Programme and relocated with their close relatives away from those who threaten them.
The Court ensures that the experience of appearing before the judges does not result in further harm, suffering or trauma. Protection is not merely meant to protect the physical well-being of protected persons, but also to protect their psychological well-being, dignity and privacy insofar as such protection shall not be prejudicial to or inconsistent with the right of the accused to a fair trial. Particular attention is paid to the specific needs of children, elderly people, disabled people and victims of sexual or gender-based violence.