- Prosecutor cites witness interference as reason for trial halt
- Kenyan cases centred on violence in which 1,000 people died
The International Criminal Court threw out war-crimes charges against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, clearing the way for him to run for re-election as it failed to hold anyone to account for violence in the East African country eight years ago.
Ruto and his co-accused, radio broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang, have no case to answer, the Hague-based court said in a statement published on its website on Tuesday.
“The Chamber considered the requests of Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang that the Chamber find that there is ‘no case to answer,’ dismiss the charges against both accused and enter a judgment of acquittal,” the court said. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda cited “serious witness interference” and Kenya’s politicization of the trial as reasons for the failure of its case.
Ruto and Sang faced charges linked to mass murder and crimes against humanity in ethnic violence triggered by a disputed presidential election in 2007 that left at least 1,100 people dead. They both denied the charges and said they had no case to answer after the court ruled in February that recanted evidence couldn’t be used against them.
The ruling means that the ICC has failed to prosecute anyone in connection with the killings. 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.
“Our case against Ruto et al was eroded by perfect storm of witness interference and politicization,” Bensouda said in a statement published on the ICC’s Twitter account. The “witness intimidation campaign seen in this case has been methodical, far-reaching and exceptionally well-resourced.”
Kenya led a diplomatic campaign to have African nations withdraw from the ICC, a proposal that was backed by the African Union at a summit in January. All but one of the 10 cases the ICC is currently considering are in African countries.
Kenyatta welcomed Tuesday’s ruling.
“The victory in this matter is partial and the quest for justice incomplete, because the International Criminal Court elected to blindly pursue ill-conceived, defective agenda at the expense of accountability for post-election violence,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
Ruto’s exoneration clears the way for him to run for re-election alongside Kenyatta in presidential elections next year. The two joined forces to win the last election in 2013. Ruto may run for the presidency in 2022, according to political analysts.