PRESIDENT KENYATTA ATTENDS ICC AMIDST CHAOTIC SCENES
President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) this morning amidst ‘chaotic scenes’ to attend a ‘Status Conference’ that will decide whether the trial will continue in which Uhuru faces charges of crimes against humanity in relation to the post-election violence that occurred following Kenya’s 2007 election. In doing so he became the first serving head of state to come before the court in The Hague.
President Kenyatta looked relaxed in a charcoal suit and blue tie when he arrived at the court surrounded by a large crowd.
President Kenyatta says the charges against him are politically motivated and should be thrown out. He was summoned to appear at the ICC after the prosecution admitted that it did not have enough evidence to go proceed with the trial. The prosecution accused the Kenyan government of obstructing its investigation by withholding evidence, a claim that Kenya’s Attorney-General Githu Muigai rejected on Tuesday when he appeared in front of the ICC.
PROSECUTION CALLS FOR “INDEFINITE ADJOURNMENT”
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the ICC for an indefinite adjournment of the trial until the Kenyan government hands over what the prosecution claim is vital evidence. President Kenyatta’s defence has denied withholding evidence and wants the trial halted and has accused the court of being biased against African leaders.
In September, the ICC postponed Kenyatta’s trial after the prosecution said the Kenyan government had failed to deliver key documents. By then several witnesses for the prosecution had retracted their original testimony.
KENYATTA WILL NOT ADDRESS THE COURT
Judge Kuniko Ozaki told President Kenyatta that he was present “solely in your capacity as an accused individual”.
“You may speak only in your capacity as an accused and may not make statements either of a political nature or in your official capacity,” as president, Ozaki said.
Kenyatta’s lawyer Stephen Kay said however that Uhuru will not be addressing the court. “I will be answering questions on his (Kenyatta’s) behalf and he does not choose to make a statement today,” Kay said.
Many Kenyatta supporters and Kenyan MPs who have travelled to The Hague to show their support, were packed into the public gallery, with some others unable to get in.
TRIAL “NOT WORKING”
Former chief prosecutor for the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, has conceded that the trial “was not working well” but said Kenyatta’s appearance showed “African commitment to change”.
If the case against President Kenyatta is thrown out the judgment could in effect become one on the role of the ICC and the manner in which it has operated rather than on the allegations made against Kenya’s president.