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ICC grants Kenya leader's request to miss parts of ongoing trial

The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday made an oral ruling [ICC materials] that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] may be conditionally excused from attending his trial on a continuous basis. The Trial Chamber enjoys discretion under Article 63(1) of the Rome Statute [text], which states that "[t]he accused shall be present during the trial." However, in October the Appeals Chamber determined [JURIST report] that "such discretion is limited and must be exercised with caution." The Appeals Chamber ultimately concluded that the Trial Chamber exercised its discretion too broadly when it initially granted Ruto's request [JURIST report] to miss parts of his trial. The Trial Chamber will now require Ruto to complete a waiver requesting the ability to miss portions of his trial. The court will also require Ruto to be present for certain upcoming parts of his trial, such as for presentations by victims and for the delivery of the judgment. Hearings in Ruto's case are scheduled to resume on January 16.

Ruto is facing trial for crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in inciting the violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan election [JURIST news archive] which led to more than 1,100 deaths. This makes Ruto the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Also facing trial is Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [ICC materials]. Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges against him in September. Earlier that month, Kenya's National Assembly approved a motion [JURIST report] to leave the ICC in response to Ruto's trial and the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta, which was scheduled to begin in November. 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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