Social media uproar after ICC Appeals Chamber hands down judgment on Rule 68

Like ICC Judge Piotr Hofmanski reading out judgment
Monday, February 15, 2016 - 15:43
By Niklas Jakobsson
It had been months in the making, but last Monday the International Criminal Court announced that it would deliver its judgment on the highly-contested application of Rule 68 in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang. Four days of wild speculation, predictions and ifs followed until the judgment was handed down Friday afternoon.
It was grim reading for the prosecution – or joyous reading for the defence – whichever way you would like to put it. As the judges announced their decision, unanimously granting the appeal, social media exploded with reactions, comments and predictions for the future.
It was fascinating to observe how different people focused on different aspects of the decision and its repercussions. You had every emotion across the spectrum – from joy to sadness, despair, confusion and surprise. But in the midst of this, there were some people who managed to step back and look at what this, at the end of the day, might mean to the victims of Kenya's post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.
There were several discussions which centreed around the merit of the decision, the specific test applied and what the judges actually decided – other than just granting the appeal. Although the appeal was granted it was interesting to look at the analysis made by the judges.
If we look back at the sideshow that was the Assembly of States Parties last year, much of the attention centred on Rule 68. Kenya came out in force with a huge delegation, putting every effort into trying to get resolutions adopted or get texts which would eventually sway the appeals judgment in the favour of the defence. Looking at social media, it seemed as though their efforts were successful. Kenya took on the ASP and won. But when looking at the footnotes of the judgment, it became clear that the appeal won on its own merits. In fact, the political attempts to influence the decision were completely rejected by the judges.
Social media is a place where news breaks, reactions are shared and emotions are expressed. In this case, it all boils down to whether the prosecution's case can stand without the evidence that was now thrown out. If it can’t, then this was the final nail in the coffin. If it can stand without the recanted evidence, it was a lot of fuss about very little. But we’ll know in due time which way the tides will turn.
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Lead image: ICC Judge Piotre Hofmanski reading out the judgement (Screenshot: ICC-CPI 

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