Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang have been set free by the International Criminal Court.
Judges decided by a majority that DP Ruto and Mr Sang case be terminated, adding that 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.
Judge Eboe-Osuji and Robert Fremr, as a majority, agreed that the the charges are to be vacated and the accused to 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 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 or to prolong the proceedings any further.
Judge Eboe-Osuji concurred with Judge Fremr’s assessment but declared a mistrial in the case, because in his view it cannot be discounted that the weakness in the prosecution’s might be explained by the demonstrated incidence of tainting of the trial process by the way of witness interference and political meddling that was reasonably likely to intimidate witnesses.
Judge Hererra Carbuccia appended a dissenting opinion. In her view, the charges against both accused should not be vacated in the present case.
According to her, the prosecution’s case had not broken down and she concluded that there is sufficient evidence upon which, if accepted, a reasonable trial chamber could convict the accused.
The ICC trial chamber ruled that the PEV victims should be invited to express views and concerns in relation to reparation or assistance in lieu of reparation.
The two have been freed from charges of crimes against humanity arising from the 2007/2008 post-election violence that left some 1,113 people dead and more than 500,000 internally displaced.
Mr Ruto and Mr Sang’s legal teams filed the no-case-to-answer application last September, saying that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had not built a case to have then put on their defence.
The application was heard in January, but the judges blocked the defence teams from presenting witnesses to support their arguments.
However, lawyer Karim Khan, for Mr Ruto, and Mr Katwa Kigen, for Mr Sang, argued that the case had collapsed after the prosecution failed to present adequate evidence.