Without information, no reconciliation

8.10.14 – ICC/KENYA – KENYAN PRESIDENT APPEARS BEFORE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

The Hague, October 8, 2014 (FH) – Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday became the first sitting head of state to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC), after he complied with a court order to attend a status conference on his case. A crowd of supporters, some dressed in the colours of the Kenyan flag, turned out to welcome him as he arrived.

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Dressed in a dark suit and blue spotted tie, Kenyatta appeared calm as he took his place in court. He has come to The Hague as an ordinary citizen, having delegated his presidential powers to Deputy President William Ruto during his absence. As proceedings got under way, Kenyatta’s British lawyer Stephen Kay told the judges his client had chosen not to make a statement and that his lawyers would answer questions from the Court.

Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity committed during post-election violence in his country that followed elections at the end of 2007.

Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki of Japan explained that this “status conference” was to examine “matters arising” from the prosecution’s request for an indefinite postponement of the trial and the defence request to have the whole case dropped. She stressed that a decision to do either of these things would have heavy implications.

The trial has already been postponed several times, owing partly to the withdrawal of key prosecution witnesses. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda now wants an indefinite postponement until the Kenyan government produces certain documents that she says it is withholding.

Prosecutors on Wednesday also asked the Court to impose sanctions on the Kenyan government if it deems that the authorities are indeed failing to comply with their obligations under the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.

They said the key documents allegedly being withheld include records of Kenyatta’s phone or phones in the run-up to the violence. The prosecution suspects that he was in contact with members of the Mungiki militia which spearheaded much of the violence.

The Defence claims that the prosecution has no case and that it should therefore drop all the charges.

Kenyatta was accompanied to the Court by his wife and daughter. Some 30 Kenyan MPs are also in The Hague to support him.

JC/ER

 

 

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