Kenyatta gets triumphant welcome home

2014-10-09 14:04
Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta (AFP)

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Nairobi - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta received a triumphant welcome on Thursday on his return from The Hague, where he was the first head of state to face charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court.

Kenyatta's lawyers argued at a Wednesday pre-trial hearing that the case should be shelved for lack of evidence. The judges will now consider whether they will drop the case or set a date for a trial.

The president, his wife and supporters that accompanied him to the Dutch city were welcomed by Vice President William Ruto at Nairobi's airport, local media reported.

Kenyatta inspected a guard of honour before being entertained by traditional dancers and singers declaring his innocence, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.

Both Kenyatta and Ruto face charges of organising mass ethnic violence after a disputed 2007 election in which the two were then on opposite sides of the political divide.

Kenyatta, who had previously appeared before the International Criminal Court in 2013 before he became president, faces charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and deportation.

Political riots

His defence team argued the case should be dropped. "He is entitled to the verdict of not guilty," lawyer Stephen Kaye said.

Prosecution lawyers accused the Kenyan government of not providing requested evidence, such as financial records and mobile phone data, and of intimidating potential witnesses.

Ruto, a member of the Kalenjin ethnic group, was allied in 2007 with opposition leader Raila Odinga, a Luo. Kenyatta is a member of the Kikuyu ethnic group.

Odinga accused Kikuyu president Mwai Kibaki, who was supported by Kenyatta, of rigging his way back to power in those elections.

Political riots descended into ethnic killings of Kikuyu, who then retaliated, plunging Kenya into a spiral of violence that left more than 1 000 people dead and half a million displaced.

Kenyatta and Ruto joined forces for the 2013 elections and won by presenting themselves as national unifiers.

Ruto's trial at the International Criminal Court has already begun, and he has also appeared in court.

Read more on:    uhuru kenyatta  |  kenya  |  east africa

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