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ICC insists Kenyatta attend 'critical juncture' in case

01 October 2014, 07:59

The Hague - The International Criminal Court on Tuesday rejected a request by President Uhuru Kenyatta's lawyers to have him excused from a hearing next week, saying the case was at a "critical juncture".

"The chamber, by majority finds that the requirements of justice in this case necessitate the physical presence of the accused in court," The Hague-based ICC said.

"The chamber considers the status conference to constitute a 'critical juncture' in the proceedings," a three-judge bench added.

Earlier this month judges dropped the October 7 start date of Kenyatta's crimes against humanity trial after prosecutors asked for an indefinite delay until Kenya handed over documents they believe could clinch their case.

Judges scheduled a status conference instead for the following day, October 8, and summoned Kenyatta to be present.

Also read: President Kenyatta wants ICC to drop his case

Kenyatta's lawyers then asked that he be excused, citing a summit in Uganda's capital Kampala on the same day which Kenyatta had to attend "as President of Kenya and the chairman of the Heads of State of the East African Community."

They added his trip to Kampala was planned prior to the scheduling of the status conference.

"The chamber does not find merit in the defence's submission regarding the accused's engagements being planned prior to the convening of the status conference," the judges said.

Kenyatta, 52, faces five counts at the ICC over his alleged role in masterminding post-election violence in 2007-2008.

It will be Kenyatta's first appearance in court, as he has repeatedly argued he needed to remain in Kenya to fight militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab group, and manage state affairs.

Events shattered Kenya's image as a beacon of stability for the region in late 2007 when opposition chief Raila Odinga accused then president Mwai Kibaki of rigging his way to re-election.

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