4 February 2014

Kenya: ICC to Decide Fate of Uhuru's Case Tomorrow

Photo: Benedikt von Loebell/World Economic Forum
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenyaat the World Economic Forum on Africa 2013.

THE International Criminal Court will tomorrow discuss a request by President Uhuru Kenyatta that his case on crimes against humanity be terminated.

The Trial Chamber V(b) will hold the Status Conference to discuss issues raised by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda when she sought the adjournment of Uhuru's case. While responding to the prosecution request, Uhuru's defence team said the case should be terminated.

The trial judges agreed to vacate the February 5 date for start of the trial. They said the rest of the issues will be discussed at the Status Conference set for the same day.

"To facilitate the fair and expeditious conduct of proceedings, the chamber considers it appropriate to convene a status conference, pursuant to Rule 132(2) of the Rules, to discuss the issues raised by the parties in relation to the prosecution request and the defence response," the judges said.

Uhuru said Bensouda used "identical language" she employed when she withdrew the charges against his co-accused, former head of civil service Francis Muthaura.

He said since previous witnesses had admitted a "financial motive" for going to the prosecution, there exists the risk of more false witnesses coming up.

"The prosecution's request for an adjournment to enable it conduct further (speculative) investigations on the cusp of the trial is another consequence of its negligent attitude towards verifying the trustworthiness of its evidence and cannot be allowed to further infringe on the rights of the accused," Uhuru's lawyers said.

Bensouda has termed the application seeking termination of the trial as "premature" and asked the judges to dismiss it.

She said before the possibility of withdrawing the charges is considered, the chamber should rule on the prosecution's application for a finding that the Kenyan government has failed to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute.

"Withdrawing the charges would reward the accused, who heads the government that has obstructed the court's work." Bensouda told the court last Friday.

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