The Hague, Netherlands – The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday postponed the commencement of the trial of Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is facing charges of crimes against humanity, until February next year.
This follows a request by his lawyers for time, among others, for the President to deal with the aftermath of the 21 September terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi that claimed more than 67 lives.
The Somali-based terrorist group, Al-Shabab, carried out a bloody attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi resulting in the death of dozens of people.
The ICC said on its website that its Trial Chamber V(b) had decided to postpone the commencement in the case against President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta to 5 February 2014.
It said the Chamber noted that both the defence and the prosecutor were in agreement on postponing the trial date until February 2014.
On 24 October 2013, President Kenyatta’s defence lawyers requested the Chamber to vacate the initial date of 12 November 2013.
“The prosecution accepted that certain factual matters raised by the defence merited further investigation and submitted that additional time would allow it to present its evidence, namely witnesses’ testimony, in a logical and coherent sequence.”
The ICC said: “Noting the interest of justice, the fairness and expeditiousness of the proceedings and, in particular, victims and witnesses, the Chamber expressed its deep regret that repeated adjournments of the trial have been necessary because one or both parties have required more time to prepare.”
The trial Chamber urged both parties to “accelerate their preparation” in order to ensure that no further postponements were required.
President Kenyatta is charged, as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of crimes against humanity consisting of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.
ICC said charges were confirmed on 23 January 2012, and the case was ultimately committed to trial before Trial Chamber V(b).
Two other cases are currently before the ICC in connection with the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008. They involve Vice President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang on the one hand and Walter Osapiri Barasa on the other.
African leaders met recently to demand the postponement of President Kenyatta’s trial until he completes his term of office.