[JURIST] Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto [official profile] appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday to argue for the dismissal of the charges of crimes against humanity filed against him and his co-defendant, broadcaster Joshua Sang. The defense claims that the charges should be dropped in light of the fact that six witnesses withdrew their testimony [VOA report], which undermines the prosecution's case. Last week Ruto persuaded the judges to allow the evidence to be heard in public over the prosecution's objections that it could lead to public backlash against the remaining witnesses. Ruto is charged with violence and displacement of his political opponents after the 2007 election, and the prosecution believes they have enough evidence to convict.
The ICC's investigation and prosecution of the Kenya Situation [ICC backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2010. In March the ICC withdrew its charges [JURIST report] against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was accused of crimes against humanity for post-election violence, but indicated it would renew the charges if presented with enough evidence. African leaders urged [JURIST report] the ICC in February 2015 to drop cases against Ruto or suspend the charges until African concerns are considered by the court. In December prosecutors asked the court to drop [JURIST report] charges against Kenyatta. In response to the charges against Kenyatta and Ruto, the African Union (AU) [official website] unanimously resolved [JURIST report] in 2013 that African heads of state should be immune from prosecution by the ICC. Also in 2013 Kenya's National Assembly approved a motion [JURIST report] to leave the ICC.