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ICC in bid to force witnesses testify in Ruto-Sang trial

17 April 2014, 20:53

The Hague - The International Criminal Court on Thursday summoned several reluctant witnesses in the trial of Vice President William Ruto, the first time it has tried to force witnesses to testify.

"Today the trial chamber granted by majority, the prosecutor's request to subpoena eight Kenyan witnesses to appear... in the case of William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang," the Hague-based court said in a statement.

"According to the prosecution, those eight witnesses are now no longer cooperating or have informed the prosecution that they are no longer willing to testify," it said.

Prosecutors said their potential evidence was "highly relevant" and testimony could be given by video link.

The ICC's founding Rome Statute does not explicitly say that the court can subpoena witnesses, and experts are divided on whether it has the right.

Ruto, 47, became the highest-ranking serving official to go on trial before the ICC in September last year on charges of masterminding some of the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-08.

About 1,000 people died and 600,000 others displaced when ruling party and opposition supporters clashed over disputed poll results, in the worst unrest to hit the east African country since independence in 1963.

Radio host Sang, 38, faces similar crimes against humanity charges including murder for his role in the violence.

But Ruto's case and that of one-time foe and now political partner President Uhuru Kenyatta have been dogged by allegations of witness intimidation and Kenya's international campaign to put the trials on hold.

Some African leaders frequently complain that the ICC discriminates against their continent.

The ICC ordered Kenya on Thursday to "cooperate fully with the court" by serving the subpoenas and ensuring the witnesses gave evidence.

Kenya's attorney general Githu Muigai in February rejected accusations that Nairobi was not cooperating with the ICC, although Kenyan media have said Nairobi would not cooperate with enforcing ICC subpoenas.

The ICC last month again postponed Kenyatta's trial, until October, saying it was giving Kenya more time to look for documents wanted by prosecutors.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto have maintained their innocence.




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