, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have rejected a request by the Prosecution to adjourn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial.
The Trial Chamber V (b) judges have now given Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda seven days to file notice indicating if she will withdraw the charges or if the evidentiary basis has improved to a degree to justify proceeding to trial.
“It would be contrary to the interests of justice for the prosecution to proceed to trial in circumstances where it believes it will not be in a position to present sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt,” the judges ruled.
Bensouda was tasked to provide watertight evidence that can manage the trial against President Kenyatta if she intends to pursue the case.
Trial Chamber V (b) also cast doubt on the ability of the expected evidence by the prosecution from the Government of Kenya, wondering if it would be strong enough to support its case.
“In its decision rejecting the Prosecution’s request for a further adjournment of the case, the Chamber noted factors including the Prosecution’s admission that the evidentiary basis remains insufficient to support a conviction and the Prosecution’s concession that it remains speculative whether the information sought in the cooperation request would, even if obtained, be sufficient to support the charges,” the judges said.
The judges are also concerned that further delays were infringing on the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
“The Chamber also noted the accused’s right to be tried without undue delay and the presumption of his innocence,” the judges explained.
The prosecution suffered yet another blow in their case after the judges rejected a request for Kenya to be referred to the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) over failed cooperation in the submission of President Kenyatta’s requested documents.
“The Chamber exercised its discretion in not referring the matter to the Assembly of States Parties, since the Chamber was not persuaded that a referral would facilitate a fair trial, was in the interests of justice or was otherwise appropriate in the particular circumstances.”
Bensouda had requested the ICC judges to refer Kenya to the ASP blaming it for withholding evidence she required to prove charges against President Kenyatta.
The judges however noted that the Government of Kenya had not cooperated in the spirit of the Rome Statute in pursuance of justice.
“The Chamber found that the Kenyan Government had taken no meaningful steps to compel production of the materials requested by the ICC Prosecutor. According to Trial Chamber V (b), the Kenyan Government’s non-compliance has impinged upon the court’s ability to fulfill its functions and powers and in particular, the Chamber’s truth-seeking function,” the judges deemed.