ICC Drops Charges of Inciting Violence Against Kenya’s Muthaura

The International Criminal Court dropped charges against Kenya’s Francis Muthaura, who alongside President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta was accused of inciting violence in the East African nation after an election in 2007.

The prosecution no longer has evidence to try Muthaura, the 66-year-old former head of the public service, on crimes against humanity charges, Fatou Bensouda, The Hague-based court’s chief prosecutor, told the trial chamber today. The prosecution plans to go forward with the case against Kenyatta, who was elected president on March 4, and his running mate, William Ruto, she said.

The prosecution doesn’t “feel we have a reasonable prospect of conviction” after a key witness in the case recanted his testimony and acknowledged taking bribes, Bensouda said in a webcast of the hearing on the ICC’s website. “This decision affects Mr. Muthaura’s case alone.”

The investigation also faced setbacks after some witnesses died or are now refusing to speak to the prosecution, she said. The Kenyan government refused requests for documents and witnesses that would have bolstered the prosecution’s case.

Ethnic and political clashes erupted in East Africa’s largest economy after supporters of the opposition said the December 2007 presidential election was rigged in favor of Mwai Kibaki. Two months of unrest led to the deaths of more than 1,100 people and drove another 350,000 from their homes.

Financing Atrocities

Today’s announcement leaves Kenyatta, 51, and Ruto, 46, to face trial at the ICC for organizing and financing the violence, in addition to radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang. All of the suspects deny the allegations.

Kenyatta won last week’s election with 50.07 percent of votes cast, narrowly surpassing the absolute majority needed to avoid a runoff with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Odinga said he plans to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the results because of “tampering” in the vote.

The elections were largely peaceful and demonstrated the “democratic spirit of Kenyans,” according to a statement from the European Union observation group.

Kenyatta is scheduled to start his trial in July, while Ruto will appear at the court to begin his trial in May.

Muthui Kariuki, the Kenyan government spokesman, said he couldn’t immediately comment because he’s still studying the announcement.

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