Arusha, March 11, 2013 (FH) – International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced Monday she is withdrawing all charges against prominent Kenyan Francis Muthaura, citing “severe challenges” that her office has faced in investigating him.

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Muthaura was charged with crimes against humanity for his alleged role in violence that followed December 2007 elections. He was due to be tried jointly with the new president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta.

 “I wish to inform you, that today I filed a notice to the Judges to withdraw charges against Mr. Francis Kirimi Muthaura,” Bensouda said in a statement. “I have done so after carefully considering all the evidence available to me at this time. It is my duty to proceed only when I believe that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction at trial. If not, then it is my responsibility as Prosecutor to take the decision to withdraw the charges.”

She said this was an “exceptional decision” which she did not take lightly. Elaborating on her reasons, Bensouda said several people who may have provided important evidence in the case have died, while others are “too afraid to testify for the Prosecution”. A key witness had to be dropped after he “recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted to us that he had accepted bribes”.

In addition, Bensouda said she had informed the judges of “the disappointing fact that the Government of Kenya failed to provide my Office with important evidence, and failed to facilitate our access to critical witnesses who may have shed light on the Muthaura case”.

Bensouda stressed that the decision applies only to Muthaura. “My decision today is based only on the specific facts of the case against Mr. Muthaura, and not on any other consideration,” she said. “While we are all aware of political developments in Kenya, these have no influence, at all, on the decisions that I make as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.”