Kenyatta seeks to defer ICC trial

ICC considers Kenyan leader's plea

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has agreed to consider the plea of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta to defer his upcoming trial for a year.

The administration of Kenyatta, with the backing of the African Union (AU), has been lobbying the ICC to defer the Kenyan leader's trial, scheduled for 12 November, at The Hague.

Kenyatta – who is accused of orchestrating violence following Kenya’s 2007 presidential election, leading to the deaths of about 1,200 people – argues that he cannot deal adequately with Kenya's current security concerns if he has to attend prolonged trials abroad.

Kenyatta cites the Nairobi Westgate terrorist attack in September, attributed to the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab, as an example for why he must remain in Kenya.

He has also described the charges against him as a neo-colonialist attack on Kenya. Recently Kenyatta won a minor concession when ICC judges ruled that he did not have to appear in person for the entire duration of his trial, only for the opening and closing statements, judgments and when victims testify.

However the country's deputy president William Ruto, who is currently attending proceedings at the Hague in a separate but similar case, was told on 25 October that he must stay in The Hague for most of his trial. His lawyers had appealed to the ICC to allow Ruto to return to Kenya.

The court ruled against the idea although it said Ruto could be excused on a "case by case" basis.