Kenyatta, 52, is charged with crimes against humanity committed in his country in violence that followed elections at the end of 2007. He protests his innocence.According to the Kenyan press, the accused left on board a regular Kenya Airways flight, along with his wife and children. A source at the presidential office said he had paid for the flight himself.
On Monday, President Kenyatta announced to an extraordinary session of the Kenyan parliament that he would comply with a Court order to appear. He also said his presidential powers would be delegated to Deputy President William Ruto during his absence. Ruto is also indicted by the ICC.
For most Kenyan editorialists Kenyatta, whose African counterparts have urged him not to go to the international court, has made a wise choice. “President Kenyatta had only two options – going to The Hague or disobeying the court order and staying put,” wrote the Daily Nation. “But he saw the sense in abiding by the resolution of the trial judges because doing anything to the contrary would have been disastrous for him and the country, at large.”
Kenyatta has already appeared before the court, but before he was elected in March 2013. On Wednesday he will be the first sitting President to ever appear before the international court.
The ICC last week rejected Kenyatta’s urgent request not to attend in person Wednesday’s hearing, which is a status conference on preparations for his trial. In their decision, the judges stressed that the hearing is an important step in the procedures.
The trial opening has been postponed several times, notably following the withdrawal of key prosecution witnesses.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accuses the Kenyan authorities of withholding documents she says she needs for her case. Nairobi denies this and says it is cooperating fully.