War crimes court drops charges in Kenya Ruto case

5th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

War crimes judges on Tuesday dropped charges of crimes against humanity against Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto over his alleged role in post-election turmoil after a 2007 vote, but left open the possibility of an appeal.

"The charges against the accused are vacated and the accused discharged without prejudice to their prosecution afresh in the future," the judges at the International Criminal Court said in a majority decision.

ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said in a statement on YouTube that: "The trial chamber... has decided by majority... that the case against William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang has to be terminated."

In a case being keenly watched in Kenya, Ruto, 49, and radio boss Sang, 40, had both denied three charges of crimes against humanity -- namely murder, forcible deportation and persecution.

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.

But the chamber had concluded that "the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable trial chamber could convict the accused," the ICC said.

Abdallah added: "This decision does not preclude new prosecution in the future either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction."

In a complex 253-page ruling, the presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji said in a separate statement he would have declared "a mistrial due to the troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling."

The case is being keenly watched in Kenya, which has 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 has long argued the charges should be dismissed following a similar case against Ruto's erstwhile bitter rival and now Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

It is a fresh blow for ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who had already abandoned the case against Kenyatta in late 2014.

© 2016 AFP

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