International Criminal Court appeals judges have ruled that statements made by five witnesses who later changed their stories or refused to testify against Kenya's deputy president cannot be used as evidence.

The move is a blow to prosecutors trying Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto on charges of involvement in deadly postelection violence.

Judges last year allowed prosecutors to use the statements as evidence against Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang, saying the witnesses effectively pulled out of the case because of intimidation or bribes.

But appeals Judge Piotr Hofmanski said Friday the statements were admitted "to the detriment of the accused" and reversed the decision allowing them to be used at the trial.

Ruto and Sang have pleaded not guilty to charges of orchestrating violence after Kenya's 2007 presidential elections.