War crimes trial of Kenyan VP adjourned over hostage crisis

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 23, 2013 2:57 AM
War crimes trial of Kenyan VP adjourned over hostage crisis

By Anthony Deutsch

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - Judges at the International Criminal Court on Monday adjourned the trial of Kenyan Vice President William Ruto for a week to allow him to return home and deal with the hostage crisis at a Nairobi mall that has left at least 68 people dead.

Ruto and Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, face charges of crimes against humanity in relation to their role in coordinating a wave of violence that swept Kenya in the aftermath of the country's contested 2007 elections.

The court's unusually swift decision was taken during an emergency session after prosecutors said they had no objection to a short delay in proceedings, and a representative for the witnesses broke down in tears in the courtroom, saying Ruto should be allowed to attend to the urgent matter.

"In light of the circumstances and the views heard so far, the chamber decided to excuse Mr. Ruto from the proceedings," said presiding judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. "For the moment the excusal is for a period of one week only, subject to any further requests."

Ruto was to catch a plane from the Netherlands at 11 a.m. local time, said his defence lawyer, Karim Khan.

In requesting his client's immediate release, Khan said the world would never have accepted the absence of U.S. leaders when the Twin Towers were struck on September 11, 2001.

"This is Kenya's 9/11," he said.

(The story corrects name of presiding judge.)

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Mike Collett-White)