[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Tuesday expressed its desire to start two Kenya trials simultaneously to avoid any appearance of bias in the March 2013 presidential election. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo [official profile] stated in a news conference [AFP report] that the office of prosecution wants to start the trials against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Kenyan minister William Ruto [case materials] at the same time and expressed his concern that an appearance of favoritism toward either one would interfere with a peaceful election. However, he added that the trial date would not have any influence on the election because ICC does not determine who will run in the election. Both Kenyatta and Ruto face criminal charges for their involvement in the 2007 Kenyan post-election violence [JURIST news archive]. Kenyatta faces five counts of orchestrating murder, rape, forcible transfer and persecution in the polls’ aftermath while Ruto faces [decisions, PDF] three counts of murder, forcible transfer and persecution. Ruto and Kenyatta are among two others facing trial before the ICC. The other two charged are journalist Joshua Arap Sang [case materials] and former civil service chief Francis Muthaura [case materials].
The trial date was set [JURIST report] to March 2013 on Monday. A specific date for the trial is not set yet but is planned to be concrete before mid-July. In May, the appeals chamber of the ICC rejected [JURIST report] the jurisdiction challenges in the two cases presented by the defense clearing the way for trial. The defense lawyers had argued that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the cases. The appeal stemmed from the pre-trial chamber’s decision of confirming the charges [JURIST report] against the four men in January. The ICC claimed jursidction over the case despite Kenya’s calls for dismissal [JURIST report]. The Kenyan government argued that they were capable of prosecuting the accused men domestically.