Lawyers for Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto [ICC materials; JURIST news archive] on Saturday requested that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] postpone his trial so he can return to Kenya to deal with a terrorist attack on a Kenyan shopping mall. A hostage situation at a Nariobi mall has left nearly 60 dead and 175 wounded. Gunmen from a Somali Islamist group attacked [AP report] the Westgate mall on Saturday, holding hundreds hostage while battling Kenyan security personnel for over 30 hours. Ruto's lawyers reportedly claimed [Reuters report] that he is needed in Kenya to oversee security and to deal with the social and political repercussions of the attack.
Ruto is on trial for three counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly fomenting violence following the 2007 elections, leading to the deaths of at least 1,100 people and displacement of more than 600,000. Earlier this month Ruto pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. Also this month, Kenya's National Assembly voted to withdraw from the ICC [JURIST report]. In June the ICC conditionally granted Ruto's request [JURIST report] to be excused from parts of his trial. Ruto is the first senior serving politician to appear in an international court. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta [official website] is also charged with crimes against humanity, but his trial is not set to begin until November 12.