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Uhuru wants ICC charges withdrawn

11 April 2013, 17:34

Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to abandoe his trial for alleged war crimes after six key prosecution witnesses withdrew from the case.

Kenyatta’s lawyers led by Stephen Key, say the prosecution case was dealt a fatal blow when witnesses ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was relying on withdrew their evidence.

In his latest application filed with the ICC registry, Kenyatta said the case should be referred back to the pre-trial chamber for determination.

Kenyatta’s application follows heavy criticism by African leaders of the ICC over claims the international court is unfairly targeting African leaders.

Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto face crimes against humanity charges in relation to Kenya’s 2007 post-election violence in which 1,300 people were killed. Their trials will begin in August.

During Kenyatta’s swearing-in on Tuesday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claimed the court was being used by the west to impose leaders on Africans.

But yesterday, Bensouda said the trial chamber had no power over a decision of the pre-trial chamber which had confirmed the charges against Kenyatta.

“This authority belongs to the Appeals Chamber and to assign this role to the Trial Chamber would undermine the separation of powers between the various chambers of the court as enshrined in the legal framework,” she argued.

She characterised the application by Kenyatta’s lawyers as “nothing more than an impermissible attempt to bring a de-facto appeal against the confirmation decision that twice rejected similar arguments offered in the past during the confirmation of charges hearings”.

Bensouda asked the trial court to determine if the pre-trial chamber would have confirmed the charges against Uhuru even after witnesses had pulled out.

 “Even under the most generous analysis, the pre-trial chamber findings that did not rely on witness four's evidence are sufficient for the charges to have been confirmed,” she said.

Kenyatta’s lawyers’ request is based on the claim that a case may be referred back to the pre-trial chamber when an important prosecution witness recants part of his testimony after confirmation and the prosecution decides not to call that witness on trial.

But Bensouda rebutted that changes in the prosecution evidence between confirmation of charges and trial was not unusual in criminal litigation.

She called on the trial chamber judges not to allow Uhuru’s lawyers to use delaying tactics to stall the trial process.

- CAJ News


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