The International Criminal Court announced that it may postpone the crimes against humanity trial of Kenyan presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta until August, in a move that may shift the tide of Kenya’s impending election more heavily in his favor.
Kenyatta’s defense team has argued that the original April 11 trial date is no longer fair because prosecutors failed to disclose information relevant to the defense in a timely fashion.
Although the decision to postpone the trail still awaits final approval, it’s expected that the ICC will allow the delay.
Lead prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a statement Tuesday, stating that she does not object to a "reasonable" adjournment and identifying August as proposed date to resume.
"The prosecution is ready for trial and wishes trial to proceed," Bensouda said.
“At the same time, the prosecution recognizes that logistical constraints such as courtroom availability make a trial on April 11, 2013, unlikely. Therefore, the prosecution does not object to a reasonable adjournment, to allow time for protective measures to be put in place for the witnesses whose identities remain to be disclosed and to provide the defense with adequate time to prepare.”
The news comes as a reprieve for Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, who will also stand trial, just days before Kenya holds its general election. The announcement will leave the pair free to campaign for the second round of elections that will occur if no candidate grabs a clear majority in the March 4 poll.
Although Kenyatta was already a front-runner in the election, some worry that the trial delay may help him edge past opponent and favorite Raila Odinga.
“It was perfect for the Odinga campaign to have the trial start on the 11th [of April],” an adviser to Mr. Odinga told Financial Times. “To have your opponents out of the country completely, with the visual image of them getting on a plane at Jomo Kenyatta Airport, getting off at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and then sitting in the dock — that would seriously depress your vote. Now it means Uhuru will be free to do a second-round campaign.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)
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