Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that they are dropping the crimes against humanity charges [case materials] against former Kenyan cabinet secretary Francis Muthaura [case materials] after encountering various issues with evidence and witness testimony. Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda [official profile] cited three primary reasons for the withdrawal of charges. Bensouda explained that "several people who may have provided important evidence regarding Mr. Muthaura's actions, have died, while others are too afraid to testify for the Prosecution." The prosecution also expressed its disappointment that "the Government of Kenya failed to provide [the] Office with important evidence, and failed to facilitate ... access to critical witnesses who may have shed light on the Muthaura case." Bensouda also stated that the ICC "have decided to drop the key witness against Mr. Muthaura after this witness recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted to us that he had accepted bribes."
The prosecution stressed that the dropping of claims against Muthaura should have no effect on the case against Kenyan president-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta, who was indicted with Muthaura for crimes against humanity arising from violence following Kenya's disputed 2007 presidential election, where an estimated 1,100 people were killed.
Concern surrounding the trial has been growing in wake of the Kenyatta's recent election as president [JURIST report]. Last week the ICC agreed to delay [JURIST report] until July the trials of Kenyatta and Muthaura. Last month Kenyatta and Muthaura asked [JURIST report] the ICC to review the decision to move forward with the trial. In December, Kenyatta and former cabinet minister William Ruto [case materials] announced [JURIST report] that they would be running together in the March elections despite the upcoming trials. In October the ICC called for complete cooperation [JURIST report] from the Kenyan government in the investigation and trial process. Journalist Joshua Arap Sang is also facing trial alongside Ruto for crimes against humanity. In June the ICC expressed its desire to start Kenyatta's and Ruto's trials simultaneously [JURIST report] to avoid any appearance of bias in the March 2013 presidential election.