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Kenya deputy president travels to The Hague for trial

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto traveled to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official site] in The Hague, Netherlands, on Monday, in advance of his trial for crimes against humanity, which is set to begin on Tuesday. Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity that led to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and displacement of more than 600,000. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website], is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12. The ICC in June conditionally granted [press release] Ruto's request to [JURIST report] be excused from [JURIST report] parts of his trial. The Trial Chamber, however, will still require Ruto to be present for certain parts of his trial, such as for opening and closing statements and for presentations by victims. The Chamber also stated that this conditional grant is for the purpose of allowing Ruto to continue fulfilling the demanding requirements of his position as vice president. Any violation of the conditions may result in the Chamber's withdrawal of the grant.

In protest of these trials, Kenya's National Assembly voted last week to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report], and is expected to take action to this end in the upcoming month. Kenya's parliament began to formally debate [JURIST report] withdrawal earlier last week. In July the ICC rejected [JURIST report] a request by Kenyan officials to change the forum of the trials to Kenya or Tanzania. The defense request was filed in January under articles 3(3) and 62 of the Rome Statute and Rule 100 of the ICC Rules and Procedures of Evidence [text, PDF], which provide for in situ hearings. African foreign ministers requested [JURIST report] that Kenyatta and Ruto be tried in Kenya after the Kenyan Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] connecting Kenyatta and Ruto to the post-election violence. Earlier in May Kenya's ambassador to the UN requested [JURIST report] that the charges against Kenyatta be dismissed. Even with charges for crimes against humanity pending against him, Kenyatta was able to win a controversial election [JURIST report] to the presidency in March. Kenyatta was sworn in as the country's fourth president following a ruling [JURIST report] from Kenya's Supreme Court that the election results were in fact valid.

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