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ICC delays start of Kenya president's trial

Prosecutors say they want a three-month delay to build a stronger case against Uhuru Kenyatta.

Last updated: 23 Jan 2014 19:53
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Uhuru Kenyatta insists he is innocent of all the charges against him [Reuters]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has scrapped a planned February 5 start date for the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta after prosecutors asked for more time to strengthen their case.

The court announced on Thursday that it would instead hold a hearing on February 5 - the day President Uhuru Kenyatta's trial was to have started - into prosecutors' request for a three-month adjournment in the case, and a request by the president to have the case thrown out altogether.

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.

Fatou Bensouda,  ICC Prosecutor.

The delay is the latest setback in the case against Kenyatta, who insists he is innocent of all charges against him.

Prosecutors asked for a delay in the case in December after one witness pulled out and another admitted giving false evidence.

At the time, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she needed time to reconsider her 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.

In a decision issued on Thursday, judges revealed that Kenyatta's defense team filed a confidential request on January 13 for the court to "terminate the proceedings ... on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence."

No further details of the defense request were available. Judges ordered Kenyatta's lawyers to file a public version by January 28. Kenyatta's defense team last year also asked for the case to be thrown out.

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

Kenya's deputy president, William Ruto, already is on trial at the ICC on similar charges. He has pleaded innocent.

African countries accuse the ICC of disproportionately targeting African leaders. The court has indicted only Africans since it was established in 2002, although half of the eight cases it is prosecuting were referred to it by African governments.

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