ICC judges issue ultimatum in Kenya president case

AP News
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Posted: Dec 03, 2014 10:41 AM
ICC judges issue ultimatum in Kenya president case

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — International Criminal Court judges on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to indicate within a week whether the trial of Kenya's president can start or if all charges against him should be dropped.

The order could signal the impending end of the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is charged with involvement in deadly violence that erupted after his country's 2007 presidential elections.

Prosecutors have, in the past, acknowledged that their evidence is not strong enough to proceed to trial and have accused Kenyan authorities of failing to cooperate with their investigations.

Kenyatta is charged as an "indirect co-perpetrator" with murder, deportation, rape, persecution and inhumane acts allegedly carried out during violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after the 2007 election. Kenyatta insists he is innocent.

The case against him has been beset by problems and delays, with prosecution witnesses refusing to testify or recanting their statements.

The prosecution asked judges earlier this year to adjourn the case indefinitely until Kenya fully cooperates in its investigation. Judges on Wednesday rejected that request and instead ordered prosecutors to tell them if the case can go ahead now.

The court's prosecution office said in a written reaction that it was studying the decision.

Kenyatta would be the first sitting head of state to stand trial at the International Criminal Court, if his case goes ahead.

Prosecution lawyer Benjamin Gumpert told a hearing in October that Kenyan authorities were stymieing investigations and warned that scrapping the case would send a worrying message to other government leaders who could face prosecutions in the future.

Lawmaker Moses Kuria, a close Kenyatta ally, said he hoped Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would drop the case, calling the prosecution of Kenyatta, and a separate trial of his deputy, William Ruto, "a complete waste of Kenyans' time."