UPDATE: ICC throws out case against Kenya deputy president Ruto and journalist Sang

Prosecutors said more than 1,300 people died and some 600,000 others were left homeless in Kenya's worst wave of violence since independence in 1963

THE International Criminal Court has released a YouTube video saying that judges have decided by a majority to terminate the cases against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio broadcaster Joshua arap Sang.

“On the basis of the evidence and arguments submitted to the chamber, presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji and Judge Robert Fremr, as the majority, agreed that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged,” the court said.

It said that this decision does not stop a prosecution in the future and the decision is subject to an appeal.

The case against Ruto and Sang was for their alleged role in post-election bloodshed which left some 1,300 people dead.

The ruling means that the ICC has failed to prosecute anyone in connection with the post-election violence. In December 2014, it dropped similar charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta because of a lack of evidence. Cases against three other Kenyan officials were also abandoned.

The lawyer representing victims in the case said Tuesday’s “mistrial” ruling was disappointing and urged the prosecution to appeal.
“There is no doubt that this will come as a disappointment for victims,” Wilfred Nderitu told reporters in Nairobi. “It is my hope that there will be an appeal by the prosecutor.”

Ruto, 49, and Sang, 40, both denied three charges of crimes against humanity — namely murder, forcible deportation and persecution —arising out of Kenya’s disputed elections in late December 2007 and their violent aftermath in early 2008.

Prosecutors said more than 1,300 people died and some 600,000 others were left homeless in Kenya’s worst wave of violence since independence from Britain in 1963.

The case has been keenly watched in Kenya, which led a high-profile campaign against the ICC among African nations, accusing the tribunal of bias against the continent.

Several African nations have threatened to walk out of the court, set up in 2002 to try to the world’s worst crimes.

The Kenyan government long argued the charges should be dismissed following a similar case against Ruto’s erstwhile bitter rival and now Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

In a major setback for the ICC, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda abandoned the case against Kenyatta in late 2014.

The prosecution closed its arguments in Ruto’s main trial in September 2015, and the defence was yet to start.

Instead Ruto’s defence team filed an unusual separate motion calling for the charges to be dismissed, arguing the ICC prosecutors had failed to prove his role in the convulsion of post-polls violence.

Sang’s team also maintained in their motion filed in 2015 that there is “no case to answer.”

Defence lawyers told the court in January that the case was “in tatters.”

 ‘Witness intimidation’ 

Ruto’s lawyers argued there was no proof he was behind the bloodshed that rocked the east African nation once seen as a regional beacon of stability.

In an early victory for the two men, judges barred the prosecution in February from applying amended ICC rules and using recanted testimonies in their case.

Several witnesses have changed their stories, which the prosecutors have alleged is due to intimidation and bribery. And the prosecution had maintained the recanted testimonies were key evidence in their case.

Violence broke out in late 2007 after Kenyan opposition chief Raila Odinga from the Luo ethnic group accused then president Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu, of rigging his way to re-election.

What began as political riots quickly turned into ethnic killings of the Kikuyu people, who in turn launched reprisal attacks.

Ruto was accused of holding meetings of his Kalenjin ethnic community in his Rift Valley home to allegedly plan attacks on Kenyatta’s Kikuyu.

-Additional reporting Bloomberg

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