International prosecutor asks for postponement of Kenyan president's trial

AMSTERDAM Thu Dec 19, 2013 1:08pm EST

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives for the extraordinary session of the African Union's Assembly of Heads of State and Government on the case of African Relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court asked for a delay to the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday after the loss of a string of witnesses severely weakened the prosecution case.

In a statement, Fatou Bensouda said she needed time to collect more evidence after one prosecution witness decided to withdraw and another confessed that he or she had been lying.

"Currently, the case against Mr Kenyatta does not satisfy the high evidentiary standards required at trial," she said, adding that she would consider later if further evidence would allow her to meet that threshold.

Kenyatta, whose trial was due to start on February 5, is accused of stoking ethnic violence after Kenya's 2007 elections, orchestrating clashes in which some 1,200 died. His deputy and former rival William Ruto, who faces similar charges, went on trial this year.

The request for a delay, which judges are likely to grant, could help to defuse growing tensions between the court and Kenya's African Union allies, who have accused it of post-colonial meddling that risks destabilizing East Africa's economic powerhouse and the wider region.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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