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President Kenyatta must attend trial: ICC

26 November 2013, 19:52

The Hague - The International Criminal Court on Tuesday reversed a ruling that allowed President Uhuru Kenyatta to attend only parts of his trial, saying the African leader "as a general rule must be present" in court.

"Any future requests to be excused from attending parts of his trial will be considered on a case-by-case basis," The Hague-based ICC said in a statement.

Kenyatta's trial on charges of masterminding some of the 2007-8 post-election violence in Kenya that left over 1,000 people dead and several hundred thousand displaced, is set to start on February 5.

Judges on October 18 partially excused Kenyatta in order for him to deal with the aftermath of a Nairobi mall siege in September in which at least 67 people died.

Two weeks later, the court postponed the trial's start date after Kenyatta's lawyers said the attack on the upmarket Westgate mall -- claimed by Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents -- triggered a "national and international crisis."

Kenyatta, who was elected president in March, has long said that the trial in the Netherlands would hamper his running of the country.

Prosecutors however argued Kenyatta's situation was the same as that of fellow accused and Kenya's Vice President William Ruto, who was instructed last month to be present at his own trial.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto face crimes against humanity charges in separate trials. They were political opponents at the time of the post-poll violence that shattered the east African country's image as a beacon of stability in the region.

Ruto went on trial in September, becoming the highest-ranking serving official to do so before the ICC.

Both men have pledged full cooperation with the court.




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