Prosecutor seeks to delay start of war-crimes trial of Uhuru Kenyatta

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 12:30am


The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court wants to delay the war crimes trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta due to a lack of evidence.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Thursday that she needed time to reconsider her case after one key witness decided not to testify and another confessed to giving false evidence "regarding a critical event" in the case.

"Having carefully considered my evidence and the impact of the two withdrawals, I have come to the conclusion that currently the case against Mr Kenyatta does not satisfy the high evidentiary standards required at trial," she said.

Judges at The Hague, Netherlands must rule whether to grant the adjournment, or perhaps dismiss the case, which was due to be heard on February 5.

Lawyers for Kenyatta have previously petitioned the court for a dismissal, arguing that evidence was tainted by false testimony. That argument has been bolstered by Bensouda's remarks.

Human rights groups have previously warned that witnesses in the case were being intimidated. Human Rights Watch lawyer Liz Evenson called Bensouda's statement "deeply disturbing", and alleged "witness interference".

"We hope the prosecutor will use every appropriate means to continue her investigation" and proceed, Evenson said.

Kenyatta has pleaded innocent to charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, forcible population transfer and persecution, for his alleged role organising violence after Kenya's 2007 elections that left more than 1,000 people dead by early 2008.

Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding president Jomo Kenyatta, was elected president earlier this year.