Uhuru Kenyatta becomes first president to appear before ICC

2014-10-08 15:11

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The Hague – Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta today became the first sitting president to appear before the International Criminal Court where he has been charged with crimes against humanity.

Kenyatta, who handed power to his deputy before flying to The Hague, was summoned to answer questions about allegedly masterminding deadly post-election violence in 2007-2008.

Wearing a charcoal suit and blue tie, a relaxed-looking Kenyatta spoke with his lawyer before the start of the status conference.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who has alleged witness intimidation and that Nairobi is withholding evidence, was also present.

Many Kenyatta supporters and Kenyan MPs were in the packed public gallery, with some frustrated at not being allowed access.

Judge Kuniko Ozaki told Kenyatta that he was present “solely in your capacity as an accused individual”.

“You may speak only in your capacity as an accused and may not make statements either of a political nature or in your official capacity” as president, Ozaki said.

Kenyatta’s lawyer Stephen Kay said that his client would not address the court.

“I will be answering questions on his [Kenyatta’s] behalf and he does not choose to make a statement today,” Kay said.

The repeatedly delayed case has seen at least seven prosecution witnesses drop out, allegedly through bribes and intimidation.

Judges could decide to send the case to trial or to abandon it after the prosecution said it did not have enough evidence, although a decision is not expected today.

A handful of demonstrators sang and danced outside the ICC ahead of Kenyatta’s arrival, many of them dressed in Kenyan colours.

One large banner read: “Hands off our prez, he is innocent.”

Kenyatta (52) faces five counts at the ICC over his alleged role in orchestrating unrest in 2007 and 2008 that left 1 200 people dead and 600 000 displaced.

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