, NAIROBI, Kenyatta, Jun 20 – The crimes against humanity trial against President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will now kick off on November 12, and not July 9 as earlier scheduled.
ICC judges extended the date of trial after considering that the prosecution had delayed in disclosing evidence to the defence of Kenyatta.
His lawyers had asked for a date in January 2014 to allow them ample time to prepare his defence.
“In light of the volume of new evidence disclosed to the defence only in January 2013 and the delays in disclosing the identity of a significant proportion of the Prosecution’s witnesses, the Chamber further considers that the additional preparation period should only begin running from 12 June 2013, being the date of disclosure of the unredacted transcripts of the outstanding delayed disclosure witnesses,” the judges decided.
They said the new date will allow Kenyatta’s defence adequate time to prepare its case as well as scheduling and logistical considerations.
The judges explained that the trial would have been set for early October but citing logistical challenges including availability of courtrooms agreed that November 12, was the most favourable.
“The Chamber would in principle set the date of commencement of the trial for early October 2013. However, scheduling conflicts, logistical and other constraints, including availability of courtrooms, arising from the other ongoing cases before the Court prevent the Chamber from setting this date and necessitate a further delay of approximately one month before trial can commence,” the judges asserted.
The judges said the proposal to have the trial start in January 2014 could not be granted as they were not convinced ‘that the defence required such an extensive additional amount of time (nearly nine months after the original commencement date of 11 April 2013) to prepare their defence.
The chamber further said it allowed the change of trial date from July 9 to November 12 in consideration that the prosecution conducted follow up interviews after January 9, 2013 deadline.
“The Chamber agrees that the defence is entitled to a limited amount of additional time for the review of transcripts of follow-up interviews the prosecution conducted after 9 January 2013 with nine of its trial witnesses and one other individual. According to the defence, these interviews were conducted, and the transcripts thereof disclosed to the defence, after the disclosure deadline of 9 January 2013,” the judges said.
The trial of Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang has been set to start on September 10.
On Tuesday the judges allowed Ruto to skip some of the trial sessions so that he can attend to his State duties.
The plenary of the ICC judges is due to make a determination if the trials will be held at The Hague, Kenya or Arusha following applications by defence teams seeking to have their trials heard closer home.
Tanzanian authorities are yet to respond to the request which the court has so far not opposed.