ICC Throws Out Charges Against Kenya’s Ruto
The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday threw out charges against Kenya’s deputy president William Ruto.
The deputy leader has been embroiled in a long-standing court case with the ICC since 2012, but proceedings have been marred with witness interference and other setbacks. ICC judges, in a split decision, dismissed the case on grounds of insufficient evidence but refused to acquit Ruto and co-defendant Joshua Sang.
One judge branded the entire affair as a mistrial after what he called “troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling”. Several key witnesses changed their statements throughout the trial, which became the basis of Ruto and Sang’s defence. The prosecution insists those changes were the result of intimidation and bribery.
“This ruling does not mean the violence didn’t occur, it does not mean that the victims do not exist,” said human rights lawyer Nelly Warega.
Murder, persecution charges
Ruto had charges brought against him by the ICC in 2012, accused of being an “indirect co-perpetrator” in murder, persecution and the forced deportation of Kenyan civilians.
The charges revolved around post-election violence in 2007, which killed around 1,200 people and forced more than half a million to flee their homes. Ruto has always denied the allegations and enjoyed the backing of former rival President Uhuru Kenyatta after forming an allegiance that ultimately won the 2013 election.
President Kenyatta had similar charges against him dropped by the ICC in 2014.
Another blow for the ICC
The decision to drop all charges against Ruto and Sang is another blow for the ICC, which comes under much scrutiny for its failure to prosecute defendants. More than the verdict itself it will be the nature of the trial that brings the ICC under question. Ruto is one of the most senior politicians to be tried by the court and to have his charges dropped in such a farcical manner will only tarnish the ICC’s reputation further.
Meanwhile, the victims and their families, who have waited almost a decade to find out what happened in 2007 and who was accountable, are no closer to any answers.
By Dean Calma / IAEA, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41140733