The Hague (AFP) – The International Criminal Court on Friday partially excused Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta from his upcoming crimes against humanity trial in order for him to fulfil his “demanding” political duties at home.

“The trial chamber conditionally excuses Uhuru Kenyatta from continuous presence at his trial starting November 12,” the ICC said in a statement, but insisted he be present at the hearing’s opening.

Judges said Kenyatta’s “excusal is strictly granted to accommodate the demanding functions of his office as President of Kenya, not merely to gratify the dignity of his own occupation of that office.”

The Hague-based court also insisted that Kenyatta be present when all parties in the case make their closing statements, when victims testify and also, if needed be, at sentencing hearings.

Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have been charged by the ICC for allegedly masterminding a vicious campaign of attacks and reprisals following disputed 2007 presidential elections.

More than 1,100 people died and several hundreds of thousands were displaced in the east African country, known for years as a beacon of stability in the region.

What started as political protests quickly spiralled into ethnically based unrest, unleashing the worst violence in the country since independence in 1963.

The court in June granted Ruto a similar application, but that decision was appealed and he remains committed to attend all trial sessions until an appeals decision has been made. – AFP

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