Kenya asks U.N. Security Council to end Hague case against president

UNITED NATIONS Thu May 9, 2013 8:20pm EDT

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta turns to speak to a member of his delegation at the Somalia conference in London May 7, 2013. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta turns to speak to a member of his delegation at the Somalia conference in London May 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Kenya has asked the U.N. Security Council to end International Criminal Court proceedings against President Uhuru Kenyatta and others, but council diplomats who discussed the request on Thursday said the 15-member body could not stop the case.

The Security Council is only able to defer International Criminal Court proceedings for one year under article 16 of the Rome Statute, which established the Hague-based court a decade ago. The council would need to adopt a resolution to do that.

"The letter from the Kenyans is slightly bizarre because they are actually asking the Security Council to do something that it has no authority to do," said a senior council diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto were among six suspects initially charged by ICC prosecutors with orchestrating tribal violence after the 2007 election, when some 1,200 people were killed. Kenyatta and Ruto both deny the charges.

In a letter to the Security Council, Kenya said the implications of Kenyatta's trial "for the viability and continuity of the state should be self evident." Kenyatta's trial is due to start in July.

"What this delegation is asking for is not deferral. What this delegation is asking for is the immediate termination of the case at the Hague without much further ado," Kenya wrote to the Security Council.

The Security Council discussed the request on Thursday. The senior council diplomat said it was unlikely there would be "widespread support" for deferring the proceedings against Kenyatta - who was elected in March - for a year.

The International Criminal Court on Monday postponed the trial of Ruto on charges of crimes against humanity, saying it wanted to hold further hearings with the prosecution and the defense. Ruto asked the ICC last month to postpone the start of the trial to give his legal team more time to prepare.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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