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Uhuru 'distressed' by Ruto's ICC trial

13 September 2013, 08:01

Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta has been "distressed" by the start of the trial of his deputy William Ruto for crimes against humanity, his spokesman said Thursday.

Deputy President William Ruto pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at the start of his trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he was accused of organising a campaign of ethnic killings "to satisfy his thirst for power" after disputed 2007 elections.

President Kenyatta's trial at the court begins on November 12. He also proclaims his innocence.

"He (Kenyatta) was distressed to see him (Ruto) appearing in the dock... and especially in a foreign country on matters on which he doesn't believe there is a proper standing," State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu told reporters.

The president was "deeply saddened" by the trial opening, he added.

Ruto, 46, and his co-accused, former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang, 38, stand accused of stoking the 2007/8 post election violence.

Kenyan MPs last week became the first in the world to approve moves to withdraw recognition of the 10-year-old court, which so far has only one conviction under its belt.

Ruto and Sang, who also pleaded not guilty, each face three counts of murder, deportation and persecution after the violence that left at least 1,100 dead and more than 600,000 homeless.

The cases have been mired in accusations of witness intimidation, allegations dismissed by the defence even though several witnesses pulled out.

There is concern that the trials could reopen old wounds and undo reconciliation efforts.

The first prosecution witness is expected to testify on Tuesday.



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