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Kenya presidential candidate asks ICC to withdraw charges

Counsel for Kenyan politician Uhuru Kenyatta [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Monday asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] to drop the charges against his client for lack of evidence. The request [AP report] came amid the withdrawal [decision, PDF] of charges against Francis Muthaura [case materials] on Monday. The prosecution filed a notice [press release] last week to withdraw charges against Muthaura due to lack of evidence that could sustain proof beyond reasonable doubt. One of the crucial factor was that a key witness against Muthaura admitted that he accepted bribes. Although the prosecution expressly stated that the decision of withdrawal would apply only to Muthaura's case, Steven Kay argued that the key evidence against Muthaura was the same for Kenyatta. Prosecution responded that it had sufficient evidence against Kenyatta and thus, could continue the prosecution against him. The start date of trial against Kenyatta was postponed [decision, PDF; JURIST report] to July 9.

Kenyatta recently won [JURIST report] Kenya's presidential election. Opposition challenged the result by claiming that the election was filled with voting irregularities. Prime Minister Raila Odinga [Al Jazeera profile], who lost the election with 43.3 percent, had announced that he will challenge the election results in the Supreme Court of Kenya [official website]. Kenyatta has been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity arising from violence following Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election. Last month Kenyatta and Muthaura asked [JURIST report] the ICC to review the decision to move forward with the trial. In December the two Kenyans announced [JURIST report] that they would be running together in the March elections despite the upcoming trials. In October the ICC called for complete cooperation [JURIST report] from the Kenyan government in the investigation and trial process. Also facing trial are former cabinet minister William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang [case materials]. In June 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.

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