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ICC prosecutor asks court to require Kenya president to attend trial

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] asked the court Saturday to set aside their decision [press release; JURIST report] earlier this month allowing Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website; JURIST news archive] not to be present for his whole trial on charges of crimes against humanity. The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) [official website] has requested [Capital News report] Trial Chamber V(b) to either reconsiders its decision to conditionally excuse Kenyatta from continuous presence, or allow for the OTB to appeal the trial chamber's decision up to the Appeals chamber. The impetus for the OTB's challenge was last Friday's decision by the Appeals Chamber of the ICC which ruled [JURIST report; judgment text] that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] must be to continuously present for his trial at The Hague, unanimously reversing [press release] the Trial Chamber's decision [text, PDF] to grant a conditional excusal from continuous physical presence. The opening of Kenyatta's trial is scheduled for November 12.

Earlier this month Kenyatta applied for a permanent stay of the proceedings [JURIST report] in his case. Earlier this month the ICC issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for a man accused of tampering with prosecution witnesses in a case against Ruto. The ICC issued the warrant against Walter Barasa, whom the ICC accuses of attempting to bribe prosecution witnesses and participating in a scheme by Kenyan government officials to interfere with the prosecution. In September Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges against him. Also last month Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed]. Scholars have made different arguments as to why Kenya's withdrawal from the ICC would be detrimental [JURIST op-eds] to the African people.

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