Nairobi — The International Criminal Court (ICC) has pushed forward the trial of Jubilee presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura to July 9.
In a statement, the chamber said that it had made the decision considering that the applications by the defence team requesting referral back to the Pre-Trial Chamber raised critical issues that had to be resolved before the trial could proceed.
The ICC brief said: "Trial Chamber V of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to grant the defence teams' requests, to which the prosecutor did not oppose, and to postpone the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and set the new date provisionally for 9 July 2013."
Kenyatta, who is leading in presidential results released so far after the General Election held on Monday, was expected to start facing trial on April 11 over violence experienced after the 2007 poll.
The chamber says that it will issue a decision on applications by Jubilee coalition running mate William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang that sought to postpone the trials that had been set for April 10.
During the status conference in mid February, Kenyatta and Muthaura made applications asking the Trial Chamber to refer their case back to the Pre-Trial Chamber since evidence that led to the confirmation of their case had been dropped.
Kenyatta argued that the prosecution used evidence presented by witness number four whose testimony was dropped by the prosecution.
"The Pre-Trial brief no longer contains the allegation that the January 3 meeting took place as described in the facts underlying the charges, and refers only to meetings in "early January". The witness list of the prosecution no longer contains witness 4, who was the only direct source of this evidence. The Summary of Areas of Testimony contains no reference to the January 3 meeting," Kenyatta's defence lawyers had argued.
They said the Pre-Trial Chamber heavily relied on witness 4 who later retracted his statement that Kenyatta and former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura attended a meeting in which they met Mungiki members and directed them to carry out attacks.
Kenyatta and Muthaura's defence teams urged the court to postpone the trial indefinitely due to new evidence introduced by the prosecution and also the delay in disclosing witnesses.
When Ruto and Sang appeared at the status conference, their defence teams made applications seeking that their trial be postponed for four months, saying they were not ready.
The two defence teams argued that the prosecution had changed the evidence presented during the pre-trial stage.
"We would request for a period of up to four months from the last date of a definite disclosure on the part of the prosecution," Sang's lawyer Katwa Kigen indicated as he requested for an updated pre-trial brief.
Kigen argued that the pre-trial brief had changed because some witnesses had also been dropped from the prosecution's list. He also asked the prosecution to indicate in the brief if it would use the evidence of witnesses dropped or not to give the defence enough time to prepare its evidence too.