ICC Prosecutor Not Ready for Uhuru Kenyatta Trial

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is not ready to proceed with the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 7 as earlier scheduled, she said in a notice to the court this aftenoon.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Bensouda instead sought to have the start of the trial postponed until such a time that the Kenyan government fully complies with the request for his financial and property records. She also asked the Trial Chamber to ensure the requested items are obtained from the Kenya government.

“Pursuant to the Chamber’s 28 August 2014 order, the Prosecution hereby provides notice that as matters currently stand, it will not be in a position to proceed to trial on 7 October 2014,”  the notice read in part.

The Court had initially asked the prosecution to confirm whether it is ready to start the crimes against humanity trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 7 as scheduled.

According to a Court order, the prosecution had to file its submission by September 5, while the Defence and representatives of the victims have until September 10 to file any observations.

But todays notice from the prosecutor states that the situation is the same as when the prosecution sought an adjournment of the trial date in December 2013; “the available evidence is insufficient to prove Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s alleged criminal responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.”

However, she said it would be inappropriate for the prosecution to withdraw the charges against Kenyatta before the Kenyan government complies with the revised request.

Uhuru Kenyatta, who was elected president in March 2013, is accused of crimes against humanity committed during post-electoral violence in his country in 2007-2008.

His trial was originally due to start on February 5, but was postponed after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on December 19 asked for an indefinite delay.

The delay would give her office more time to boost her evidence after the withdrawal of two key witnesses. One said he was no longer willing to testify in the case, while the other said he had given false evidence.

In a March 31 decision, the Court set the start of trial for October 7. The judges sought to ensure that the Prosecutor is finally ready, so that they issue practical instructions to the parties for smooth organization of the hearings.

The prosecution is facing not only the withdrawal of witnesses but also strong pressure from some African leaders.

Since Kenyatta and his Deputy President William Ruto were elected despite the ICC accusations against them, the African Union has mobilized, claiming that serving leaders of their rank should not be prosecuted by the ICC.

In Ruto’s trial, which has been ongoing since September 2012, the judges agreed to a softening of rules so that he may be absent from certain hearings to carry out his national duties.

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