Yesterday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, filed a notice to withdraw charges against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta citing a lack of evidence in the case. In her press release, Prosecutor Bensouda stated that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction at trial on the basis of the evidence before her. She acknowledged that
“this is a painful moment for the men, women and children who have suffered tremendously from the horrors of the post-election violence, and who have waited, patiently, for almost seven years to see justice done.”
She cited a number of key difficulties that her Office has faced in the prosecution of President Kenyatta for crimes against humanity including the death of key Prosecution witnesses and the withdrawal of others on the grounds of fear; the recanting by key witnesses of their accounts to investigation teams; and the Kenyan Government’s non-compliance with the investigation.
Fergal Gaynor, the legal representative of victims in the case said that the Kenyan Government had done everything in its power to obstruct the progress of the case.
Her decision comes following the 3 December refusal by the Trial Chamber to further adjourn the start of Mr Kenyatta’s trial pending the Government of Kenya’s compliance with the Prosecution’s request for records.
A withdrawal of charges is not legally an acquittal and the case against President Kenyatta may be reopened or brought in a different form if new evidence comes to light.
Prosecutor Bensouda called yesterday a “dark day for international criminal justice.”