, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 26 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has applied for excusal from the October 8 status conference scheduled by the International Criminal Court’s Chamber V(b).
President Kenyatta who stands as the accused before the chamber has explained in his application that he would be unable to attend the conference either in person of via video link because of prior commitments as Chairman of the East African Community (EAC).
He has therefore requested the chamber which had made his attendance mandatory to either reschedule the conference or allow his lawyers to represent him.
“The defence submits that the nature of the hearing is not one that would require him to take part in the proceedings in any significant manner, such as the giving of testimony,” his defence counsel submitted.
And in the event that the, “chamber is unwilling to permit the excusal,” Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins submitted on behalf of President Kenyatta, he should be allowed to attend via video link at a later date.
A date that should be fixed, his counsel stated, “after consultation with the parties,” due to the, “extra-ordinary,” demands of his office.
An allowance, they argued, that had been made before. “The Hague would entail two to three days travel time which would significantly impact upon his ongoing duties as Head of State and Chairman of the EAC at a time of significant and important challenges nationally and internationally which require his constant attention,” his defence submitted.
The prior commitments President Kenyatta identifies in his application for excusal are a Northern Corridor Infrastructure Summit in Kampala on October 8 and the celebration of Uganda’s independence on October 9. All of which his defence submits were scheduled before the Chamber demanded he be present before them on October 8.
The chamber had notified all parties involved in crimes against humanity case President Kenyatta is facing in the Hague that two status conferences had been scheduled for October 7 and 8 to discuss one, with a representative of the Kenyan government on the first day, the status of Kenya’s co-operation with the Office of the Prosecutor in supplying her documentation she had said was pivotal to her case.
And on the second day what that would mean for President Kenyatta’s case which had been provisionally set for October 7 but had to be adjourned for the third time after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda notified the chamber that she still does not have enough evidence to successfully prosecute President Kenyatta.
The second adjournment having been granted on the basis that the Kenyan government would provide her the information she needed.
Attorney General Githu Muigai had however made it clear to the chamber that the Kenyan government could not hand over President Kenyatta’s bank records unless explicitly ordered to do so by a Kenyan court.
“If I received an order from you I would have to surrender it to the public prosecutor who would then place it before the High Court which may grant the order or grant the accused a hearing and even then President Kenyatta reserves the right of appeal,” he told the court in February.
And in view of Bensouda’s admitted lack of evidence, President Kenyatta has applied to have the case against him dismissed.
Bensouda is however adamant that the commencement of the case should remain adjourned until such a time as which the Kenyan government (GoK) complies with her request.
“It would be inappropriate for the prosecution to withdraw its charges against Mr Kenyatta before the GoK complies with the revised request,” she submitted on September 5.