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Kenya court permits ICC to arrest journalist

The High Court [official website] of Kenya on Friday refused to stop the arrest [docket] of journalist Walter Barasa, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for allegedly disrupting the prosecution in the crimes against humanity case of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive]. The ICC issued an arrest warrant [text] in October upon suspicion that Barasa was attempting to sabotage the prosecution's investigation by intimidating or harassing witnesses that are set to testify against Ruto. According to the Kenyan court, Barasa did not properly demonstrate that an arrest would lead to a violation of constitutional rights and certain oppression. The journalist now has 14 days to appeal this decision. After this time, he may be arrested and extradicted to the ICC, where he would face a potential five-year sentence.

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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