Kenyan Vice President William Ruto must attend his crimes against humanity trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and can only be excused under “exceptional circumstances”, the court has ruled.
The decision on Friday puts the court at odds with the Kenyan government and the African Union, which have asked for the trials of Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta to be moved nearer to home or postponed.
“The appeals chamber deems it appropriate to reverse the impugned decision,” Judge Sang-Hyun Song said of an earlier ruling excusing Ruto from most of his trial before the Hague court.
Ruto, who is accused of orchestrating a wave of violence after Kenya’s contested 2007 election, wanted judges to agree that he need only attend the opening and closing sessions of his trial in The Hague, as well as hearings at which victims aired their grievances.
President on trial
The ruling could deepen tensions between the court and African leaders who accuse it of unfairly targeting their continent.
It could also set a precedent for Kenyatta, whose trial for similar charges is scheduled to start next month.
The ICC last Friday partially excused the president from his upcoming trial to allow him to fulfil his “demanding” political duties at home.
Kenyatta, who was elected president in March, has long argued that his November 12 trial in The Hague would hamper his running of the country.
He was only required to be in court for the trial opening, the verdict as well as when victims are giving testimony against him.
Appeals judges reversed a ruling by trial judges earlier this year that allowed Ruto to miss most of his trial.
Prosecutors appealed and Ruto has, so far, attended much of his case.