President Kenyatta's ICC trial likely delayed
31 October 2013, 16:39
The Hague - President Uhuru Kenyatta's crimes against humanity trial is likely to be delayed until next year after International Criminal Court prosecutors said they did not object to a postponement.
"The prosecution acknowledges that there are some grounds for such a change and does not oppose the defence application," said a court document dated Wednesday and published Thursday.
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 currently set to begin on November 12.
However, his lawyers last week asked for the trial to be postponed, citing the "national and international crisis" triggered by last month's deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping centre.
Prosecutors said that while they did not accept that Kenyatta's "presidential duties are a reason to delay the trial," they would also like a delay in order to be able to present witnesses in the order they want.
The prosecution said that if the trial were postponed, it should start instead on February 3, 2014, while the defence has asked for a delay until February 12, 2014.
Kenyatta, who was elected president in March, has long argued that his trial would hamper his running of the country.
His lawyers argued that last month's militant attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in which at least 67 people died meant he was urgently needed at home.
The attack was carried out by Al Shabaab, which has threatened to launch further attacks.The Deputy President William Ruto went on trial at the ICC last month on similar charges.
The court has been caught up in accusations that it is targeting African leaders, with the African Union calling for immunity for heads of state and asking the UN Security Council to suspend ICC proceedings against Kenya's leaders for a year.