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ICC judges summon President Uhuru Kenyatta, will he go to The Hague?

By Wahome Thuku | Published Sat, September 20th 2014 at 00:00, Updated September 20th 2014 at 00:06 GMT +3
Uhuru Kenyatta at the ICC chambers during the pre-trial hearings

President Uhuru Kenyatta could finally make history as the first Head of State to physically appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Trial Chamber V(b) which is handling Uhuru's case has issued an order requiring him to attend a status conference on October 8, this year.

The court also granted a request by the prosecution to postpone the start of the trial which was scheduled for October 7.
Instead the Chamber scheduled a status conference for October 7 and 8, but required the President to be present on the second day.

Video Link

Though the Chamber did not spell out how the President would be expected to appear before it, he is likely to make his presence via video link from a location in Nairobi.

Uhuru made such appearance before the chamber via video link in February last year, weeks before he was elected president on March 5. Since then, he has not been required to be present.

But in a ruling yesterday, the Chamber presided by Judge Kuniko Ozaki ordered that Uhuru should be present during the second status conference.

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"Mr Kenyatta is required to be present at the second status conference. Both hearings will be held in the presence of the Prosecution, the Defence and the Legal Representatives of Victims," the court ruled yesterday.

The trial was adjourned on March 31, after the prosecution informed the Chamber that they had no tangible evidence against Uhuru.

They, however, asked that the Government be compelled to produce his financial records and other information on his mobile telephone records which they would use to determine if they could proceed with the case or terminate it.

The prosecution claims the records are relevant in proving that Uhuru financed the Mungiki militia to killings and destruction of property in Naivasha and Nakuru during the 2008 post-election violence.

Bone of contention
The request, which was made in April this year, has been a bone of contention between the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and the Government.

On August, 28 2014, the Chamber ordered the Prosecution to file a notice confirming whether it would be ready to start Uhuru's trial on October 7.

The OTP filed a notice on September 5, asking the judges to adjourn the case until the Kenya government had fully complied with the request for financial and other personal records of the President.

On 10 September 2014, Uhuru's defence filed a response asking the chamber to terminate the case.

The two status conferences have been called to discuss the cooperation between the OTP and the Kenyan government regarding the disclosure of the information and the documents, which the State says are not available.

The judges have also invited the government to attend the October 7 session.

"The decision was made with due regard to the requirements of article 64(2) of the Rome Statute, which states that the Trial Chamber shall ensure that a trial is fair and expeditious and is conducted with full respect for the rights of the accused and due regard for the protection of victims and witnesses," the judges said.

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