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ICC delays trial for Kenya president

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Thursday agreed to delay [order, PDF] the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [ICC materials], which was originally schedule for February 5, after prosecutors requested more time for trial preparation. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked for a new start date [Al Jazeera report] after considering the sufficiency of the evidence against Kenyatta. In the order to vacate the February 5 trial date, the court also addressed other procedural matters, ordering the prosecution to file a response in relation to the new issues raised in the defense's response by January 31. The order followed Kenyatta's defense team filing of a confidential request on January 13 for the court to "terminate the proceedings ... on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence." A public version of the request must be filed by January 28. The prosecution's case has been weakened after several key witnesses have withdrawn their testimony [Reuters report]. Kenyatta has denied all charges of crimes against humanity relating to his role in the 2007 post-election violence [JURIST news archive]. Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] is also facing trial.

Kenyatta and Ruto are facing trial for crimes against humanity for their alleged involvement in inciting the violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan election which led to more than 1,100 deaths. This makes Ruto the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Earlier this month the Trial Chamber of the ICC made an oral ruling [JURIST report] that Ruto may be conditionally excused from attending his trial on a continuous basis. In November, however, the court ruled [JURIST report], reversing a previous ruling, that Kenyatta may not excused from parts of his crimes against humanity trial. In September 2013, Kenya's National Assembly approved a motion [JURIST report] to leave the ICC. The ICC decided to continue with the trials despite the vote, having rejected [JURIST report] a request by Kenyan officials to move the trials to Kenya or Tanzania in July.

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