Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) stepped back from the brink yesterday and refused to throw out charges of crimes against humanity against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta – despite the prosecution's admission that it no longer has sufficient evidence to go ahead with the case.
In a written submission before the hearing, the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, accused the Kenyan government of actively obstructing the case against the president – and in court yesterday, the prosecution said it had been two years since crucial evidence had been requested.
Counsel Ben Gumpert revealed the prosecution wants access to Mr Kenyatta's financial records because it believes they may show he indirectly paid large amounts of money to the perpetrators of a wave of violence that swept Kenya after its disputed election in 2008.
“We have exhausted all reasonable prospects in terms of the leads available to us,” Mr Gumpert admitted. “The stones that remain to be turned are becoming less and less promising. But we have a duty to pursue our investigations . . .”
Requesting an indefinite delay in the case – which up to Christmas had been due to start yesterday – he accused the Kenyan government of intimidating witnesses and blocking access to information, adding: “We characterise the position of the government of Kenya as one of pure obstructionism.”
Not guilty plea
Mr Kenyatta (52) – who was not in court for yesterday's status conference – is pleading not guilty to five counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly masterminding the 2008 post-election violence that left over 1,200 people dead and 250,000 displaced.
The president’s counsel, Steven Kay, who previously asked the court to drop the charges, rejected the prosecution’s allegations as “based on falsity” and “a blame shifting exercise”.