Kenyatta’s Trial to Face Major Setback After Witness Withdraws Testimony


Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta

Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s recently elected President, is facing charges for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague; however, the prosecution will have to overcome major setbacks due to a number of witnesses backing out from their testimony.

Mr. Kenyatta is alleged to have used his family fortune to sponsor death squad attacks during the violence that followed the 2007 presidential elections. Despite the fact that Mr. Kenyatta has always rejected such allegations and attributed them to politically driven gossip, the ICC has been moving forward in building a case against the Kenyan leader.

While prosecuting a current head of state is not a straightforward task and the challenges so far have been numerous, the news that one of the lead witnesses will renounce to testify will prove a major impediment to the case. The setback is only one in a series of challenges the prosecutors have had to overcome while building this case. The trial, initially scheduled for July of this year, has been postponed to November 12th in order to allow more time for the prosecution to work on the case. While this may give more time to organize evidence and testimonies, it also increases the chances of witnesses backing out of the case in fear of their own security.

Witness number 426 has stated that the security risks  are just too high to justify a testimony. The fact that Mr. Kenyatta is a current head of state and has enormous influence on Kenya’s army and security forces is certainly discouraging to those who have been shown willingness to talk about the 2007 violence. By the same token, the anti-ICC climate that has been fostered by the current government is working against the case and is discouraging any further testimonies. ICC prosecutors are afraid that Kenya’s political climate  may discourage other witnesses from testifying and that this trend may affect other international criminal cases where witnesses lack sufficient protection.

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