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ICC drops charges against Kenyatta

ICC drops charges against Kenyatta

In a surprise turn of events, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Friday said that they were withdrawing charges against Kenya's leader, Uhuru Kenyatta.

A statement from the court said that the evidence had "not improved to such an extent that Mr Kenyatta's alleged criminal responsibility can be proven beyond reasonable doubt".

The ICC had accused President Kenyatta of crimes against humanity in connection with violence after elections in 2007. He had denied the charges saying that the ICC case was political.

On Wednesday, the court had given prosecutors a week to decide whether to pursue their case or to drop charges.

Further delays in Kenyatta's case would be "contrary to the interests of justice", it had said.

Bribes and intimidation

Kenyatta became the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, after he was charged in 2012 and the case has dragged on ever since.

ICC prosecutors repeatedly asked for more time to build their case, saying witnesses had been bribed and intimidated, and that the Kenyan government had refused to hand over documents vital to the case.

Deputy President Ruto still on trial

However, President Kenyatta's deputy, William Ruto, is still on trial at the ICC on similar charges after his legal team failed to have the charges against dropped.

Ruto is accused of fuelling violence to bolster then opposition leader Raila Odinga's chances of becoming president. He also denies the charges.

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

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