Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has withdrawn the charges against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court.
“In light of the Trial Chamber’s 3 December 2014 “Decision on Prosecution’s application for a further adjournment”, the Prosecution withdraws the charges against Mr Kenyatta,” the prosecutor said in her application to the court on Friday.
She said the evidence had not improved to an extent to which President Kenyatta’s alleged criminal responsibility could be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Ms Bensouda, however, noted that the notice for withdrawal was subject to the possibility of bringing new charges at a later date in case the prosecution obtained sufficient evidence.
“This withdrawal is without prejudice to the possibility of bringing new charges against Mr Kenyatta at a later date, based on the same or similar factual circumstances, should [the Prosecution] obtain sufficient evidence to support such a course of action”.
On Wednesday, ICC judges directed the prosecution to either file a withdrawal notice within one week or provide justification, on the basis of evidence, for proceeding to trial.
The chamber noted that its decision to deny the request for adjournment, based on the “practical terms and in the circumstances of this case” was likely to have the consequence of ending the proceedings.
The chamber said it considered, in rejecting the request, the prosecution’s own admission that evidence remained insufficient to support a conviction.
The right of the accused to be tried without undue delay and the presumption of his innocence also informed the decision, the judges said.
They observed that the two Kenya cases at the ICC — one against Mr Kenyatta and the other facing Deputy President William Ruto and former broadcast journalist Joshua arap Sang — had taken five years.
Besides, by the prosecution’s admission, it remained speculative whether the information sought in the cooperation request would, even if obtained, be sufficient to support the charges.
President Kenyatta is charged at the ICC, as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of crimes against humanity consisting of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.
The charges were confirmed on January 23, 2012, and the case was committed to trial before Trial Chamber V(B).