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Kenya turns to African Union again over International Criminal Court cases

COUNTIES
By Wahome Thuku | June 13th 2015

The Kenya government is once again seeking the intervention of the African Union in its bid to have the trial of Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC) terminated.

The government has taken up the matter with the regional body at the ongoing 25th AU Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Kenya delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed, has secured "Africa's relationship with the ICC" as a substantive agenda at the meeting, which ends on June 15. It has been running from June 7.

In particular, the government is seeking the AU's objection to application of an ICC rule used by the prosecution in seeking recanted witness statements admitted as evidence in the case. Heads of States, including President Uhuru Kenyatta will be attending the meeting tomorrow (June 14).

Rule 68 of the Rules of Evidence, amended during the 12th session of the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) in November 2013, is now being used by the ICC prosecution against Ruto and co-accused, journalist Joshua Sang.

It allows the ICC to admit into evidence prior statements recorded by witnesses who are not available or are unwilling to testify for one reason or another.

But both the government and the defence teams in the case argue that the rule was amended subject to the condition that it would not be applied retrospectively.

This is the second time the Government is lobbying for support of AU on ICC cases, with the aim of saving both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ruto from the trials.

The first was soon after the two were elected in 2013, when Kenya started a process to withdraw as a signatory to the Rome Statute. Though the members declined to pulling out of the Rome Statute, they resolved that no sitting Head of State would be compelled to attend trial at the ICC.

The AU then pushed for an amendment of Rule 134 of the ICC Rules of Evidence to allow for the use of video technology.

This rule allowed Uhuru and Ruto to be excused from being physically present at the Hague during trial. Uhuru's case was withdrawn on March 15, this year.

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