The International Criminal Court Tuesday dropped the case against Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The Hague-based court's judges Chile Eboue-Osuji, Olga Herrera Carbuccia and Robert Fremr ruled that the Mr Ruto and Mr Sang have no case to answer.
The judges cited political interference as one of the reasons for vacating the charges.
"The proceedings are declared a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling," read part of the ruling.
However, they said the decision does not preclude future prosecution at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction.
Judges Eboe-Osuji and Fremr, as a majority, agreed that the charges should be vacated and the accused be discharged, but they provided different reasons for their decision.
Judge Fremr found that the accused had no case based on an assessment of the prosecution's evidence in accordance with the chamber's guidelines.
He argued that the prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which a reasonable trial chamber could convict the accused.
Accordingly, he concluded that there was 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, arguing that it could not be discounted that the weakness in the prosecution's case might be explained by the demonstrated incidence of tainting of the trial process by 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 the accused should not be vacated.
Judge Carbuccia said the prosecution's case had not broken down, concluding there was sufficient evidence on which, if accepted, a reasonable trial chamber could convict the accused.
The ICC trial chamber ruled that the post-election violence victims should be invited to express their views and concerns in relation to reparations or assistance in lieu of reparations.
The ICC has failed to convict all of the six suspects presented by Ms Fatou Bensouda's predecessor Luis Moreno Ocampo as the people who bore the greatest responsibility for the crimes against humanity perpetrated in the 2007/2008 post-poll chaos.
The six suspects included President Uhuru Kenyatta (then the deputy prime minister and minister for Finance), Mr Ruto (then Eldoret North MP), Mr Henry Kosgey (then Tinderet MP), Francis Muthaura (then head of public service), General Hussein Ali (then Kenya Police Commissioner) and Mr Sang.
The 2007/2008 post-election violence left 1,133 people dead and more than 600,000 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.
Uhuru welcomes acquittal
President Uhuru Kenyatta has welcomed the termination of the International Criminal Court case against his deputy William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang.
In a statement Tuesday evening, the President said their “innocence has been vindicated by a decision of no-case-to answer.”
“This moment is long overdue but no less joyful. I join my brothers in celebrating their moment of justice,” he said.
President Kenyatta faulted the ICC over the trial, saying it chose to “blindly pursue ill-conceived, defective agenda” at the expense of post-election violence victims.
“As a result, many victims await justice, and perpetrators are yet to be brought to account. We will continue the work of healing the nation, uniting the people, reconciling communities and ensuring that justice for the victims is achieved,” he said.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai also congratulated Mr Ruto and Mr Sang over their acquittal.
He said the case had become highly politicised by “external forces.”
“Kenya looks forward to concentrating on the process of the complete resettlement of IDPs, the full compensation of victims and national healing and integration,” he said.