William Samoei Ruto

19.04.2016 ( Last modified: 12.07.2016 )
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William Kipchirchir Samoei Arap Ruto was born on 21 December 1966 in Sambut Village, Kenya. He belongs to the ethnic group of Kalenjin.. He has been Deputy President of Kenya since 4 March 2013.

Ruto received primary education in his native village and subsequently studied at the Kapsabet Boys High School. In 1990, he received a degree in Botany from the University of Nairobi. Ruto married Rachel Chebet, a teacher, in 1991, and they have six children.

In 1992, Ruto became Organising Secretary of Youth for “Kanu ’92”, a group that was formed to drum up support for President Daniel Arap Moi in the 1992 election.

In January 2006, Ruto sought the nomination of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) as its presidential candidate, but came in third in the party caucus behind the winner Raila Odinga.

In December 2006, Ruto, together with Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang, allegedly established a network with the aim of committing crimes directed against supporters of the Party of National Unity (PNU). Their goals were to gain power in the Rift Valley Province and the Kenyan Government and to punish and expel from the Rift Valley those perceived to support the PNU. Ruto allegedly provided essential contributions to the implementation of the common plan by way of organising and coordinating the commission of widespread and systematic attacks.

During the period of violence following the presidential election of December 2007, members of the network organized by Ruto allegedly began attacking target locations including Turbo town, the greater Eldoret area (Huruma, Kimumu, Langas, and Yamumbi), Kapsabet town, and Nandi Hills town. They approached each location from all directions, allegedly burning down PNU supporters’ homes and businesses, killing and torturing civilians, and systematically driving them from their homes. On 1 January 2008, they allegedly burnt down a church in Kiambaa with more than 100 people inside the church. At least 17 people died.

According to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the post-election attacks resulted in more than 1,100 people dead, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced. During 60 days of violence, there were hundreds of rapes, and over 100,000 properties were destroyed in six of Kenya’s eight provinces.

Following the violent political crisis over the results, Kibaki and Odinga agreed to form a power-sharing government. Ruto was appointed as Minister for Agriculture, even after a report produced by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights accused Ruto of inciting, planning and financing ethnically motivated violent activity in the aftermath of the 2007 elections.

On 15 December 2010, the ICC Prosecutor requested the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC to issue summonses to appear for Ruto, Kosgey and Sang. According to the Prosecutor, there were reasonable grounds to believe that they were individually criminally responsible for murder, torture, deportation or forcible transfer and persecution on political grounds as crimes against humanity.

legal procedure

On 31 March 2010 the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC granted, by majority, the Prosecution’s request to open an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Kenya, committed between 1 June 2005 and 26 November 2009.

On 15 December 2010, the Prosecutor of the ICC requested the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC to issue summonses to appear for Ruto, Kosgey and Sang.

On 8 March 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber II, by Majority, summoned Ruto, Kosgey and Sang to appear before the Court on 7 April 2011.

On 31 March 2011, the Kenyan government submitted an application challenging the admissibility of the case before the ICC. On 30 May 2011, Pre-Trial Chamber II rejected this application. Pre-Trial Chamber II’s decision was confirmed, on 30 August 2011, by the Appeals Chamber.

On 23 January 2012, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed the charges against Ruto. He was accused of being criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator for the crimes against humanity of:

  • murder;
  • deportation or forcible transfer of population; and
  • persecution

On 9 July 2012, the ICC set the commencement of the trial on 10 April 2013. However, the start of the trial was postponed twice, first to 28 May 2013 and secondly to 10 September 2013.

On 18 June 2013, the ICC granted Ruto to be excused from being physically present continuously throughout the trial. The Prosecutor filed an appeal against this decision. The Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision on 25 October 2013, ruling that the excusal of an accused from physical presence at trial should not become the rule.

The trial started on 10 September 2013. 628 victims were participating in the proceedings.

During the trial, evidence appeared of widespread bribery and intimidation of witnesses testifying against Ruto. On 18 September 2013, Presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji stated in a special reminder to the parties, that corruptly influencing a witness, obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or retaliating against a witness for giving testimony in a case before the Court is an offence against the administration of Justice in the ICC.

On 26 October 2015 Ruto submitted a request to dismiss the charges and to enter a judgment of acquittal.

On 5 April 2016, the Trial Chamber terminated the case by deciding that the charges are to be vacated and the accused are to be discharged. The Trial Chamber explained that the Prosecution did not present sufficient evidence on which the accused could reasonably be convicted. This decision does not preclude new prosecution either at the ICC or in a national jurisdiction.



On 27 December 2007, presidential elections were held in Kenya. Mwai Kibaki was elected President, but the voting took place along ethnic lines and the opposition as well as international observers claimed that the elections had been manipulated. Supporters of Raila Odinga, the opponent of Mwau Kibaki, staged several non-violent protests, but also engaged in violent demonstrations in several parts of the country. The Police shot at a number of demonstrators causing more violent protests. Civil unrest and targeted ethnic violence ensued. It was first directed mainly against the Kikuyu people, the community of which Kibaki is a member, in the Rift Valley Province. This violence escalated with the killing of over 30 unarmed civilians in a church near Eldoret (Western Kenya) on 1 January 2008. Some of the Kikuyu people engaged in retaliatory violence against ethnic groups supportive of Odinga, primarily the Luos and the Kalenjin people. The slums of Nairobi witnessed intense violence including ethnically motivated attacks, outrages at extreme poverty and actions of criminal gangs. The violence continued sporadically for several months, particularly in the Rift Valley.

In January 2008, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan successfully brought the two sides to negotiation. On 28 February 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement called the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which established the office of prime minister and created a coalition government. Odinga became the Prime Minister of the government, which was sworn in on 17 April 2008.


By the end of January 2008, around 1,300 people were killed and approximately 300,000 were displaced. The government of Kenya established several inquiry commissions including the Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence (Waki Commission) to investigate the clashes that ensued after the 2007 presidential elections. On 15 October 2008, the Commission submitted the so-called “Waki report”, recommending the creation of an independent court with international oversight to try cases of international crimes and allegations that ministers, legislators and businessmen funded and fomented the violence. Names of the alleged perpetrators were not disclosed publicly, but to Kofi Annan, who handed them over to the ICC Prosecutor in July 2009. The Commission gave the Parliament one year, beginning July 2009, to establish such a court after which, it would disclose the names of the alleged perpetrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In October 2008, the Parliament established the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission to investigate and recommend appropriate action regarding abuses committed between the country’s independence in 1963 and the conclusion of the power-sharing deal of 28 February 2008. The Commission was supposed to be complementary to prosecution of human rights abuses either by an international tribunal in Kenya or the ICC. The Commission does not have the power to prosecute, but to recommend prosecutions, reparations, amnesty in exchange for the truth by the perpetrators who did not commit gross human rights violations. Victims may apply for reparations if they qualify.

In February 2009, the Parliament rejected the Constitution Amendment Bill, which would have allowed for the creation of a special court for the prosecution of crimes committed during the post-elections violence. The “Waki Commission” disclosed the names of the alleged perpetrators to the ICC Prosecutor. On 31 March 2010, the ICC authorized the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation in Kenya in relation to alleged crimes against humanity falling within the ICC jurisdiction. Three persons are currently indicted at the ICC: William Samoei Ruto, Joshua Arap Sang and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. Furthermore, the ICC has issued an arrest warrant against Walter Osapiri Barasa.


On 4 March 2013 general elections were held in Kenya. These were the first general elections held under the new constitution from 2010, and the first that were run by Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a regulatory agency in charge of supervising referenda and elections. Uhuru Kenyatta was declared President-elect. He defeated his opponent, the then incumbent President Raila Odinga, in what observers considered mostly fair and transparent elections. William Samoei Ruto was appointed Kenyatta’s Deputy-President. The fact that both Kenyatta and Ruto face charges of crimes against humanity before the ICC, which was publicly known before the elections, did not prevent them from winning over the majority of voters.


With indictment against Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the ICC is seeking to prosecute two incumbent African heads of state. The tension between African countries and the ICC, which have existed since the Court’s creation, increased considerably with a controversial decision the African Union took on 12 October 2013. The 54-member organization of African states unanimously adopted a resolution asking the UN Security Council to defer the trials against any serving head of state or government or anybody acting during his term in office. The AU decided further, Kenya’s President Kenyatta should refuse to attend his trial before the ICC. On 10 September 2013, the AU sent a letter requesting that the ICC defer the investigation and prosecution of acts connected to 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, and allow the newly reformed national judiciary to investigate and prosecute. In addition, in October 2013, Kenya’s UN ambassador sent a letter to UN Security Council to ask that the ICC defers the trials against Kenyan officials.

The Organization has repeatedly accused the ICC of being one-sided, because it has so far only tried African cases.

In September 2013, the Kenyan Parliament started debating on withdrawing from ICC. The motion to suspend any cooperation with the ICC was approved by the National Assembly. This in no manner affects the trials which have already started before the ICC. In order to end its membership, Kenya has to officially submit the request to the UN.

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