During the status conferences the prosecution surprisingly backed trial dates after the elections.
The ICC prosecution intends to change the character of the charges against Uhuru, Ruto and Muthaura to widen the net and ensure there is a high chance of conviction.
The decision of the court did not say how long the trial would take but legal experts have already indicated that it could take many months.
Both Uhuru and Ruto had been pushing for a date after March next year, on the basis of their political interests. But during the status conference, Muthaura asked the court to set a hearing this year and expedite the trial.
His lawyer Karim Khan said Muthaura, who retired from the public service after charges were confirmed wanted to get off with the case and continue with his private life.
The prosecution intends to call 25 to 35 witnesses in Uhuru’s case and had pleaded with the Chamber to synchronise the two cases as closely as possible due to security and tension generated in the county by the impending trials.
Under the Rome Statute, the accused must be present in person throughout the trial. That could complicate matters if either Uhuru or Ruto wins the presidency and are required to be in The Hague, Netherlands for weeks or months.
The other issue would be the complications over the Government’s position that a Head of State enjoys immunity against trial for international crimes.
This position has been taken and advocated by the Attorney General Githu Muigai, despite a decision by the ICC to the contrary.
The defence teams wanted the judges to first dispense with one case before moving on to the second, claiming this would help the court understand the chronological order of events that led to the post election violence, but the judges disagreed.
Uhuru’s defence and the prosecution have already agreed on how evidence, including names of witnesses will be released to him ahead of the trial.