Kenya's President Kenyatta 'excused most of ICC trial'

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at a special service for the people killed and injured in the Westgate shopping mall attack (1 October 2013) Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to co-operate with the ICC

Related Stories

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta need not attend all of his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court has said.

He is only required to be present at certain key parts of the case, a majority of judges ruled.

Mr Kenyatta has argued that attending the trial in The Hague would prevent him from governing the country.

Both Mr Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto deny charges of organising violence after the 2007 election.

Start Quote

There needs to be a balance between the legal process and his right to govern”

End Quote Manoah Esipisu Kenyan presidency spokesman

Friday's ruling states that the Kenyan president must be physically present during the opening and closing statements, hearings where victims "present their views and concerns in person," the verdict, and any other sessions determined by the court.

'Demanding'

The judges said that the exemption was granted "to accommodate the demanding functions of [Mr Kenyatta's] office as President of Kenya".

The decision was by a majority vote as presiding judge Kuniko Ozaki did not agree with the other two judges.

Last week, the African Union urged the UN Security Council to delay Mr Kenyatta's trial, which is due to start on 12 November.

African leaders accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting the continent; all the court's current cases are from Africa, and two serving presidents, Mr Kenyatta and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, have been indicted.

Analysis

The ruling comes with conditions; if President Kenyatta violates those, the court could issue an arrest warrant.

In granting the defence request, the judges made clear that their decision was designed to accommodate the demanding functions of his office as president of Kenya - and not merely because he holds such a powerful position.

On Thursday a spokesman for the Kenyan presidency, Manoah Esipisu, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that there "needs to be a balance between the legal process and his right to govern".

An estimated 1,200 people were killed in the ethnic bloodshed which swept across Kenya after disputed elections in December 2007. Around 600,000 fled their homes.

Mr Ruto's trial began in September. He too was granted an exemption from attending parts of his trial, but the prosecution lodged an appeal against that decision, which is currently suspended.

The BBC's Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says the uncertainty over Mr Ruto's exemption means there is no guarantee that Mr Kenyatta's will be granted.

Mr Ruto's trial was adjourned for a week to allow him to return to Nairobi in the aftermath of the Westgate mall siege.

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto (R) reacts as he sits in the courtroom before his trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (10 September 2013) William Ruto's trial began in The Hague on 10 September

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

* May require registration or subscription

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.