Kenya's Kenyatta to urge ICC to drop charges
18 March 2013-03-18
Lawyers for Uhuru Kenyatta are to push the International Criminal Court (ICC) to drop charges against Kenya's president-elect after the case against Francis Muthaura, his co-accused, collapsed.
The case against Kenyatta, charged with crimes against humanity over deadly violence in the wake of Kenya's election in 2007, has been further complicated by his victory in a ballot which was held largely peacefully this month.
A status conference, or pre-trial hearing, has been called by judges in The Hague for 14:00GMT on Friday, and will look at the consequences of the withdrawal of the charges against Muthaura for the case against Kenyatta.
Kenyatta and former civil servant Francis Muthaura were among six suspects initially charged by ICC prosecutors with orchestrating violence after the 2007 election, when some 1,200 people were killed.
On March 11, prosecutor
Fatou Bensouda said the decision of a key witness to recant testimony had forced her to drop charges against Muthaura.
Bensouda said the decision would have no impact on Kenyatta's case. Kenyatta's lawyers will call on Friday for the case against him to be dropped or at least postponed, said one lawyer who was familiar with the case, but did not want to be quoted by name. (…)
Kenyatta, elected by a slim margin earlier this month, faces a big challenge in bridging Kenya's ethnic divides even without the court case. His opponent, Raila Odinga, challenged the election result in court on Saturday, alleging widespread ballot rigging. Prosecutors are expected to resist any moves to drop the charges against Kenyatta, which were brought by Bensouda's predecessor.
Kenyatta's lawyers say so much information was disclosed by prosecutors at the last minute that the case is fundamentally different from the one judges initially approved. They will also argue that the prosecution case has changed so much in the past year that the case should be moved back to the pre-trial "confirmation of charges" phase. The prosecution would then have to show again that it has a strong enough case to go to trial.
Judges have not yet formally dropped the case against Muthaura. The case is an important test for the Netherlands court, which was set up more than a decade ago as the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, but has so far only secured one conviction.
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