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ICC reverses ruling excusing Kenya president from continuous presence at trial

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday reversed [decision] a previous decision that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] be excused from parts of his crimes against humanity trial. In the initial ruling [decision], the Trial Chamber stated that the excuse was "strictly granted to accommodate the demanding functions of his office as President of Kenya." The prosecution filed a motion for reconsideration [JURIST report] of this decision in October, requesting that the Chamber vacate the excusal ruling and instead use the general rule provided in Article 63(1) of the Rome Statute [text, PDF] that "the accused shall be present at the trial." Any future decisions on whether Kenyatta will be excused from further proceedings "must be taken on a case-by-case basis."

Kenyatta is charged [JURIST report], as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Kenya during the 2007-2008 post-election violence that led to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and the displacement of more than 600,000. These charges [press release], which consist of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts, were confirmed in January 2012. Earlier this month, the UN Security Council [official website] rejected [JURIST report] the African Union's resolution to defer the trial by a full year. Kenyatta's trial was originally scheduled to commence in November, but was postponed [JURIST report] until February of 2013 to allow the head of state to respond to the aftermath of the deadly Nairobi Westgate mall terrorist attack. Kenyatta's deputy president, William Ruto, is also on trial for his involvement in the post-election violence. He plead not guilty [JURIST report] in September to the three charges made against him.

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