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ICC drops Uhuru Kenyatta charges

From: BBC
President Uhuru celebrate with fellow Kenyan
President Uhuru celebrate with fellow Kenyan

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague have withdrawn charges of crimes against humanity against Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta.

He had been indicted in connection with post-election ethnic violence in 2007-08, in which 1,200 people died.
Mr Kenyatta, who had denied the charges, said he felt "vindicated".

The prosecutor's office said the Kenyan government had refused to hand over evidence vital to the case. Mr Kenyatta said on Twitter he was "excited" at the dropping of charges.

"My conscience is absolutely clear," he said, adding in another message that his case had been "rushed there without proper investigation".

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said her government would try to have two other similar cases thrown out including one involving Deputy President William Ruto.

"As they say, one case down, two more to go," Mr Kenyatta said in another Twitter message.

On Wednesday, the ICC had given prosecutors a week to decide whether to pursue their case against Mr Kenyatta or withdraw charges.  Further delays in the case would be "contrary to the interests of justice", it had said.

On Friday, prosecutors said the evidence had "not improved to such an extent that Mr Kenyatta's alleged criminal responsibility can be proven beyond reasonable doubt".

The BBC's Anna Holligan in The Hague said the announcement was a huge blow to prosecutors.
Many observers had seen the case against Mr Kenyatta as the biggest test in the court's history, she says.
'Bribed and intimidated' Mr Kenyatta was the first head of state to appear before the court, after he was charged in 2012.

The prosecution repeatedly asked for more time to build its case, saying witnesses had been bribed and intimidated, and the Kenyan government had refused to hand over documents vital to the case.

Human Rights Watch had accused the Kenyan government of acting as a roadblock and "impairing the search for truth".

Mr Kenyatta denied inciting ethnic violence following the disputed 2007 elections in order to secure victory for then-President Mwai Kibaki.  He said the ICC case was political.

Mr Kenyatta won presidential elections in 2013, with the backing of Mr Kibaki.

He used the ICC case against him to rally nationalist support by accusing the Dutch-based court of meddling in Kenya's affairs. About 1,200 people were killed in the violence in 2007-8 and 600,000 were displaced.

Mr Ruto is on trial at the ICC on similar charges after his legal team's efforts to have the case thrown out failed.

He and Mr. Kenyatta were on opposing sides during the 2007 election, with Mr Ruto accused of fuelling violence to bolster opposition leader Raila Odinga's chances of becoming president. He denies the charges.

Mr Ruto subsequently formed an alliance with Mr Kenyatta in the 2013 election, opening the way for him to become deputy president.

Analysts say the dropping of charges against Mr Kenyatta while the case against Mr Ruto continues risks reopening a political rift and upsetting Kenya's delicate ethnic balance.


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