THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Kenya's president sought Thursday to halt his International Criminal Court trial before it starts, claiming that corrupt witnesses and intermediaries for the prosecution make a fair trial impossible.
In a written request, Uhuru Kenyatta's lawyers asked the court to permanently end the case against him because "the prosecution is presiding over an utterly corrupt and dishonest case." Kenyatta is due to go on trial Nov. 12 for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during violence that left more than 1,000 dead in the aftermath of Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential elections.
Kenyatta, who was elected president at elections earlier this year, denies the charge, and his lawyers have repeatedly claimed that the prosecution case against him is based on false testimony. He has always cooperated with the court and is not in custody. If his trial goes ahead, he has applied to be excused from attending hearings in The Hague so he can continue to carry out his duties as head of state.
Prosecutors are expected to respond in writing, and the court could order a hearing into the claims. In a lengthy and heavily redacted motion, Kenyatta's lawyers accuse witnesses and intermediaries of lying, threatening other witnesses and pulling together a corrupt group of prosecution witnesses to testify against Kenyatta, who is accused of organizing attacks on his political opponents in late 2007 and early 2008.
Last week, the court issued an arrest warrant for a Kenyan, Walter Barasa, who is accused of bribing or attempting to bribe ICC prosecution witnesses in Kenya not to testify. Kenyatta's filing came ahead of an African Union summit on Saturday which is expected to debate the possible exit of some nations from the court, which many leaders on the continent accuse of unfair bias against Africa. So far, all the court's indictments are against Africans.