The International Criminal Court (ICC) has set free Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto along with compatriot Joshua Sang, a former radio presenter, after finding the prosecution’s case weak.
The judges at The Hague-based court decided, by a majority, that Ruto and Sang’s case be terminated, but warned the decision does not preclude future prosecution at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction.
"The charges are hereby vacated and the accused are discharged from the process without prejudice to their presumption of innocence or the prosecutor's right to re-prosecute the case at a later time," presiding Judge Eboe-Osuji said.
Judges Eboe-Osuji and Robert Fremr, as a majority, agreed that the charges are to be vacated and the accused be discharged. They provided separate reasons for their decision.
Judge Fremr found that there is no case for the accused to answer based on an assessment of the prosecution's evidence in accordance with the chambers guidelines.
He considered that the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable trial chamber could convict the accused.
Accordingly, he considered that there is no reason to call the defence to bring their case to prolong the proceedings any further.
“I am delighted that DP @WilliamsRuto and Mr. Joshua Sang’s innocence has been vindicated by a decision of no-case-to answer at the ICC” president Uhuru Kenyatta tweeted after the case was dismissed.
The two have been freed from charges of crimes against humanity arising from the 2007/08 post-election violence that left some 1,113 people dead and more than 500,000 others internally displaced.
Ruto and Sang’s legal teams filed the no-case-to-answer application last September, saying that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had not built a solid case.
The application was heard in January, but the judges blocked the defence teams from presenting witnesses to support their arguments.
However, lawyers Karim Khan, for Ruto, and Katwa Kigen, for Sang, argued that the case had collapsed after the prosecution failed to present adequate evidence.
In December 2014, the ICC lead prosecutor also withdrew charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta which were also linked to the post-election violence in the East African country.