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The International Criminal Court in The Hague on Friday withdrew all “crimes against humanity” charges against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying it didn’t have enough evidence to proceed.
Kenyatta was charged with helping incite post-election violence in Kenya following the 2007 presidential vote. About 1,000 people died in protests stirred up by the opposition, which turned into targeted ethnic killings on both sides.
When Kenyatta appeared before the ICC in October, the prosecution accused the Kenyan government of hampering the investigation by not turning over phone, tax and other records. The government said it couldn’t produce the records because it didn’t have them.
On Friday, the prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement saying the Kenyan government “falls short of the standard of good faith cooperation” and has failed to comply with its treaty obligations under the Rome Statute, which established the court, even though Kenya is a signatory.
“The government of Kenya’s failure to provide my office important records has had a severe adverse impact on this case,” Bensouda wrote. “It has deprived the victims of their right to know the full account of what transpired in 2007-2008.”
Kenyatta said in his own statement that he was “excited” by the withdrawal of the case.
“It has always been my position that the Kenyan cases at the ICC were rushed there without proper investigation or preparation, and sustained by a strong interest to stigmatize accused persons,” Kenyatta wrote.
“The victims in this case will get no satisfaction from the ICC, owing to the prosecutor’s decision to compromise a quest for justice in favor of political considerations,” he said.
Karen Naimer, director of the Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones at Physicians for Human Rights, said the decision raises broader concerns about the international court’s ability to hold high-ranking officials accountable. “The collapse of this case is a serious blow to the International Criminal Court and international justice, where gathering evidence against political leaders protected by their state remains an enormous challenge.”
The cases against Kenyatta and other officials, which began in 2011, have had troubles from the start, including witnesses dying or recanting their statements.
Larisa Epatko produced multimedia web features and broadcast reports with a focus on foreign affairs for the PBS NewsHour. She has reported in places such as Jordan, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti, Sudan, Western Sahara, Guantanamo Bay, China, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, Germany and Ireland.
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