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ICC postpones trial of Kenya vice presidential candidate

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday postponed [decision, PDF] commencement of the trial of Kenyan vice-presidential contender William Ruto [case materials] to ensure trial preparedness. In mid-February, defense counsel for Ruto asserted that the prosecution had failed to disclose a "significant volume" of materials relating to witness testimony despite having the "bulk" of the material in their possession prior to the January 9 deadline. The prosecution countered that it had disclosed materials in accordance with the court's special orders, which allegedly allowed for a "continuous flow" of disclosure during all stages of the proceedings. Both parties however agreed that the original April 10 date was untenable, and sought to extend investigation until mid-summer. The ICC on Friday found that only 70 percent of crucial material had been disclosed by the deadline, and delayed [press release] the trial until May 28 to ensure adequate time for trial preparation. Ruto is accused of being criminally responsible as an indirect co-perpetrator for his role in 2007 post-election clashes [JURIST news archive] that resulted in the death of over 1,200 Kenyans. The ICC also postponed [JURIST report] the trial of Ruto's running mate Uhuru Kenyatta [JURIST news archive] on Thursday for similar reasons. Kenyatta has been charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly bankrolling death squads that slaughtered women and children. However, both candidates have been cleared to run. In the wake of the charges, the Africa Centre for Open Governance [official website] on Friday urged [UPI report] Kenya's high court to stop the counting of votes in the presidential election to ensure that post-election violence will not occur again.

In December Kenyatta and Ruto announced [JURIST report] their plans to run together in the country's presidential race. Some have challenged the pair's campaign by claiming the ICC charges render them unsuitable candidates. In October the ICC called for complete cooperation [JURIST report] from the Kenyan government in the investigation and trial process. In June the ICC expressed its desire to start the two Kenyan trials simultaneously [JURIST report] to avoid any appearance of bias in the presidential election. 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].

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