The Star (Nairobi)

13 February 2013

Kenya: Uhuru, Ruto to Attend ICC Hearing Through Video-Link

Kenyan International Criminal Court suspects want the court to postpone commencement date of their trials over what they claim to be prosecutions ... ( Resource: Kenyan ICC Suspects Request Trials Be Delayed

DEPUTY Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Coalition running-mate William Ruto have opted to attend tomorrow's pre-trial hearing via video-link instead of traveling to The Hague.

Their co-accused Francis Muthaura and Joshua Sang traveled to The Hague on Tuesday night for the status conference which will discuss issues pertaining to the commencement of trial.

According to Ruto and Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen, the defence teams were yesterday still waiting for instructions from the court on where the video conference will be conducted.

Kigen and lawyers handling the Jubilee leaders' cases, including Evans Monari and Kioko Kilukumi met on Monday and Tuesday night to discuss the final plans for the cases.

The decision for the two not to travel was reached after their lawyers and campaign teams concluded that this would interrupt their programme of vote-hunting as the campaigns enter the home-stretch.

During the presidential debate, where Uhuru was put on the spot on how he would run the country if he won, the DPM confirmed that he was not going to travel to The Hague.

"In two days time and we are in the middle of a campaign, we will be having a status conference. That Status Conference will be handled though video-conferencing," Uhuru said as he sought to justify how the trials would not affect his presidency.

Uhuru and Ruto will be participating in a pre-trial hearing tomorrow to be conducted by the Trial Chamber V judges to discuss matters pertaining to the commencement of the trials.

During the conference, the judges will lead discussion into whether there is need to amend the conditions of the summonses issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber in 2011.

The parties will address practical, financial and legal matters related to their attendance at trial, including their accommodation. Some issues likely to be raised by the defence and the prosecution have already emerged.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has already applied to the court for the four Kenyans to make a public declaration before the judges that they will not fail to attend trial.

However Ruto is asking the judges to give his lawyers more time to prepare for trial citing delayed disclosure by the prosecution. His co-accused, Sang, wants the court to assess the impact of the withdrawal of prosecution witnesses on the prosecution's Pre‐Trial Brief.

Uhuru's lawyers have also challenged the confirmation of the charges against him as Witness Number Four has been dropped by Bensouda and want the case referred back to the Pre-Trial Chamber to re-examine the charges against him.

Muthaura has asked the judges to reprimand a member of the prosecution team for disclosing the identity of some defence witnesses to some prosecution witnesses.

Uhuru and Ruto have also claimed that the prosecution and some international organisations has been bribing witnesses to give evidence against them.

On Monday night, Uhuru was put to task to explain how he and Ruto planned to run the government while still been required to be at The Hague, if the court fails to relocate to Nairobi or Arusha as they have requested.

Uhuru appeared ill-prepared for the issue at first when he forced the moderator to interrupt him after he failed to tackle the question of how he would run the government and still attend trial possibly at The Hague.

However, the DPM regained his composure and maintained that he will be able to govern the country and deal with the charges facing him at the ICC if elected President.

In his defence during the first ever pre-election debate for presidential candidates televised live, he said it was up to Kenyans to decide who their next president will be and whether he can juggle the "personal challenge" and the presidency.

"The job I seek is going to be given by the people of Kenya who fully well know the personal issues that I am confronted with. We are not guilty of the ICC charges. What I seek is an elective position and not an appointive one. If Kenyans vote for me that is a show of their confidence in my ability and I will clear my name and run the country," he said.

Other candidates were however divided on whether Uhuru should vie for the presidency or not.

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