Kenyan Deputy President Asks ICC for Permission to Return Home

Kenyan Deputy President Asks ICC for Permission to Return Home

Kenya’s second-in-command, William Ruto, wants to be at home to help deal with the mall attack by Islamic extremists. The problem? He’s on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over charges stemming from 2007-2008 violence. According to Reuters, Ruto’s lawyers have asked the court to grant him leave to return home:

Judges at the International Criminal Court will meet on Monday to decide if Kenya’s deputy president can return home to deal with the armed occupation at a Nairobi shopping mall in which 59 people have been killed, a person close to events said.

In a filing seen by Reuters, William Ruto’s lawyers had asked judges to meet in emergency session on Sunday to adjourn the trial. If it had been granted, Ruto could have left The Hague for Nairobi on Sunday evening.

Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, also faces an ICC trial slated to begin in November. Both Ruto and Kenyatta have insisted that they will continue to cooperate with the ICC, but court officials and human rights advocates have decried what they see as a quiet campaign to discourage witnesses from testifying.

On other fronts, the tussle between Nairobi and The Hague is much more open. Kenya’s Parliament recently supported withdrawing from membership in the court (that hasn’t happened yet). And at the regional level, Kenyan diplomats are reportedly encouraging large-scale withdrawals from the ICC by African states. The spectacle of Ruto pleading for permission to return home in the midst of a crisis may deepen official African discomfort with an institution many see as interfering with diplomatic processes.