The International Criminal Court told Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, that he must be at The Hague for most of his human rights crimes trial.
“The absence of the accused can only take place in exceptional circumstances and must not become the rule," ICC president Sang-Hyun Song said Friday, explaining the appeals court reversal of an earlier decision that gave Ruto blanket permission to be absent for much of his trial.
Ruto could still miss court sessions, the ICC said, but he must request permission for each absence.
Ruto stands accused of involvement in ethnic clashes following the Kenyan elections in 2007. An estimated 1,200 people were killed and about 600,000 people left their homes.
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Ruto’s trial started in September, and he has attended all of it so far. The ICC suspended the trial for nine days after the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi so Ruto could return to Kenya to help the government respond.
Judges already allowed Ruto to miss the first three days of next week, since he is needed in Kenya to take over from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will be attending a regional summit in Rwanda.
Kenyatta, also accused of crimes against humanity during the post-election period, is expected to go on trial at The Hague on Nov. 12.
Last week, judges said Kenyatta could be excused from attending most of his trial, following complaints from the African Union that his fulltime presence at The Hague would make it difficult to run Kenya.