The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday threw out charges [decision, PDF] against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [BBC profile]. Ruto and Joshua Sang were accused [Reuters report] of supporting murderous inter-ethnic violence in Kenya after the 2007 election, leading to more than 1,200 deaths. Ruto and Sang have denied [BBC report] the murder, deportation and persecution charges. Judges from the ICC halted the trial [press release], ruling that prosecutors failed to provide enough incriminating evidence. The judges ultimately were split [dissent, PDF] on whether to acquit, declare a mistrial or continue with the case. The case faced constant setbacks. In February the ICC barred the use of recanted testimony [BBC report] after several key witnesses changed their statements. The prosecution alleged that these changes were due to intimidation and bribery on behalf of Ruto. The absence of an acquittal opens up Ruto and Sang for new charges from the ICC in the future.
The ICC’s investigation and prosecution of the Kenya Situation [ICC backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2010. Last year the ICC withdrew charges [JURIST report] against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was accused of crimes against humanity for post-election violence, but indicated it would renew the charges if presented with enough evidence. African leaders had urged [JURIST report] the ICC to drop cases against Ruto or suspend the charges until African concerns are considered by the court. In response to the charges against Kenyatta and Ruto, the African Union unanimously resolved [JURIST report] in 2013 that African heads of state should be immune from prosecution by the ICC. Also in 2013 Kenya’s National Assembly approved a motion [JURIST report] to leave the ICC.