, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has now been allowed to skip some of the hearings of his International Criminal Court (ICC) trial, set to begin on November 12.
Trial Chamber V(b) judges said they allowed President Kenyatta’s request in respect of his rights and also in consideration of protection of victims and witnesses.
“Today, 18 October 2013, Trial Chamber V(b) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its decision conditionally granting, the request to excuse Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta from continuous presence at his trial, scheduled to start on 12 November 2013. The decision was adopted by majority, Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki dissenting,” the Public Affairs Unit indicated.
The judges however made it mandatory for Kenyatta to attend the opening and closing statements of all parties to the case and during the presentation of victims’ views.
Kenyatta will also be required in person during the sentencing hearings, delivery of the sentence, during the impact hearings of victims and also during reparation hearings.
He will also be required to be physically present upon the request of the court.
“The majority required Mr Kenyatta’s physical presence for the entirety of the following sessions: the opening and closing statements of all parties and participants, hearings when victims present their views and concerns in person, the delivery of judgement in his case and any other attendance ordered by the Chamber.”
The judges in granting him his application considered his plea based on his duties in the office of the President of Kenya; “the majority reiterated, in a similar vein to Trial Chamber V(A)’s decision of 18 June 2013, which granted Mr Ruto a similar relief, that Mr Kenyatta’s excusal is strictly granted to accommodate the demanding functions of his office as President of Kenya, and not merely to gratify the dignity of his own occupation of that office.”
However the judges warned Kenyatta that if he violates any of the conditions, he risks a warrant of arrest or revocation of his application. “The majority asserted that violations of any conditions of Mr Kenyatta’s excusal may result in revocation of the partially granted request, and/or the issuance of an arrest warrant, where appropriate.”
Kenyatta made the application replacing his earlier bid in which he was seeking to attend his trial via video link.
The judges denied the request for a via video link explaining that it requires logistical requirements in terms of finances, technological setups and human resources.
The decisions by the judges come amidst pressure and controversy over whether President Kenyatta should attend the trial.
Whereas the African Union (AU) made a resolution that Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should not attend the trials, Ruto is already in The Hague for his case.
Even though there have been strong indications from the Foreign Ministry that Kenyatta should not attend the trial, Kenyatta has remained mum on the matter as his defence team has continued to cooperate with the court.
On Wednesday, ICC Outreach Coordinator Maria Kamara said as far as the court was concerned, Kenyatta was cooperating based on the applications made by his defence team.