Uhuru’s Lawyers Ask ICC To Abandon President’s Trial

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s lawyers have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to abandon his trial even before it starts.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

In a written request to The Hague-based court, they said they had evidence that defence witnesses had been intimidated.

The lawyers also claimed that prosecution witnesses had been trying to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Kenyatta is accused of crimes against humanity during the 2007 post-election violence – a claim he denies.

Some 1,200 people died and 600,000 were forced from their homes during the conflict.

Mr Kenyatta’s trial is set to start in The Hague on 12 November.

Deputy President William Ruto is also on trial – he is the first senior government official to be tried by the ICC.

Mr Kenyatta’s lawyers filed the 38-page request on Thursday, calling for a “permanent stay of proceedings”.

“The defence is in possession of substantial evidence of a serious, sustained and wide-ranging abuse on the process of the court,” the document said.

It also said there was evidence to prove that three prosecution witnesses and one intermediary were involved in a serious and sustained conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The defence lawyers also accused the prosecution of “presiding over an utterly corrupt and dishonest case”.

The prosecution is now expected to respond in writing to the defence’s claims, and the ICC could then order a hearing into the allegations.

The timing of the claims could not be worse for the ICC, as the African Union will discuss a mass withdrawal from the court at talks on Friday and Saturday.

So far all the court’s indictments have been against Africans, and many leaders on the continent accuse the ICC of unfair bias.

Human rights groups have been campaigning to convince them to stay, but the allegations from the defence lawyers will do little to restore faith in the controversial criminal court, our correspondent says.

Mr Kenyatta has twice failed to defer – or indefinitely postpone – the case from the world court.

On Wednesday, Nairobi requested that the trial be held via video link.

Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said Mr Kenyatta had fully co-operated with the ICC, but the circumstances had changed since he won the presidency in March.

“Today he is the head of state of the republic. It’s going to be the first time that a sovereign head is brought before any court of any kind, not just here but anywhere in the world,” the minister said.

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