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ICC grants Kenya leader's request to postpone trial

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday excused [ICC statement] Kenyan deputy president William Ruto [ICC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] from trial proceedings for one week in order for him to return to Kenya to help respond to the terrorist attack at a Nairobi shopping mall on Saturday. Ruto's lawyers filed an urgent motion [text, PDF] asking for proceedings against Ruto to be adjourned [JURIST report], arguing that Ruto, as "the serving Deputy President of Kenya, is required to return to Kenya to discharge his ordinary constitutional duties which include participating in security briefings and consultations and involvement in other on going and very sensitive national security investigation." At least 68 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the terrorist attack [AP report] perpetrated by Somali militants on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.

Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly fomenting violence following the 2007 elections, leading to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and displacement of more than 600,000. Earlier this month Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also this month Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed]. In June the ICC conditionally granted Ruto's request [JURIST report] to be excused from parts of his trial. Ruto is the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12.

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