ICC says Kenyan president must appear in person for Hague hearing

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta must appear in person at a hearing on October 8 at the Hague.

Judges rejected President Kenyatta’s request to postpone the hearing or appear via video link.

He denies organising ethnic massacres after the 2007 elections in which 1,200 people were killed. No one has been brought to book for the killings to date.

Kenyatta’s trial has already been delayed several times.

Lawyers had suggested that the hearing be postponed or that arrangements be made for Mr Kenyatta to appear via video link due to his official commitments.

However, the ICC rejected the request, saying that the matters to be discussed were at a critical stage and directly involve the interest of the accused and victims.

“The chamber, by majority, finds that the requirements of justice in this case necessitate the physical presence of the accused in court,” the ICC said in a statement.

Earlier in September, the ICC decided to postpone the start of Mr Kenyatta’s trial after prosecutors said the Kenyan government had failed to hand over crucial documents.

The hearing on October will instead aim to set a date for a trial.

Mr Kenyatta’s lawyers have repeatedly said the whole case should be dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Mr Kenyatta was elected in 2013, despite facing the charges. In 2007, Mr Kenyatta was a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner in that year’s election despite claims of fraud from his rival Raila Odinga.

The disputes soon turned violent, with targeted killings along ethnic lines, pitting members of the Kikuyu ethnic group of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Kibaki against other communities.

Mr Kenyatta is accused of organising an ethnic Kikuyu gang, the Mungiki sect, to attack rival groups.

His Vice-President, William Ruto, faces similar charges, although he was on Mr Odinga’s side during the violence.

Credit: BBC