The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Monday set the trial dates for two Kenyan post-election violence cases for next April. The trial of former Kenyan minister William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang [case materials] will begin [decision, PDF] on April 10, 2013, while the trial of Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former civil service chief Francis Muthaura [case materials] is to begin [decision, PDF] on April 11, 2013. With the scheduling order, the ICC established a time table for procedural steps, such as lists of witnesses and evidence, pre-trial briefs, expert reports and completion of all disclosures by the prosecution. The trial date was set a month later than initially announced [JURIST report] by the court in June.
Last month the ICC expressed its desire to start the two Kenyan trials simultaneously [JURIST report] to avoid any appearance of bias in the March 2013 presidential election. Ruto is considered a leading candidate in the election which will take place March 4, 2013. The four men have been accused and charged with involvement in the 2007 Kenyan post-election violence [JURIST news archive]. Ruto and Sang are facing three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution while Kenyatta and Muthaura are facing five counts of orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls' aftermath. In May, the appeals chamber of the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the jurisdiction challenges in the two cases presented by the defense, clearing the way for trial. The defense lawyers had argued that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the cases. The appeal stemmed from the pre-trial chamber's decision to confirm the charges [JURIST report] against the four men in January. The ICC claimed jurisdiction over the case despite Kenya's calls for dismissal [JURIST report]. The Kenyan government argued that it was capable of prosecuting the accused men domestically.