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ICC rejects request to hold trial of Kenya's Ruto in Africa

William Ruto sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Lex van Lieshout/Pool
William Ruto sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague May 14, 2013. REUTERS/Lex van Lieshout/Pool

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court in The Hague on Monday turned down Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto's request that his trial for crimes against humanity be held in Africa.

Ruto is accused along with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta of helping to orchestrate post-election violence five years ago in which 1,200 people died. He had asked for the trial to be held in Kenya or neighboring Tanzania, where there is already a U.N. court.

"While in principle in favor of bringing the ICC's proceedings closer to the affected communities, (judges) concluded that the proceedings in this instance shall be held at the ICC's headquarters," the court said in a statement.

It has yet to rule on a similar request by Kenyatta.

The two men, who were elected on a joint ticket in March, had asked for the move so that they could more easily combine their political duties with attending court. Critics said it might expose prosecution witnesses to intimidation.

The court said judges had considered factors including "the potential impact on victims and witnesses" and the "perception of the court". Their decision will be controversial in Kenya and Africa more broadly, where sensitivities about European and Western influence run deep.

Earlier this year, heads of state and government at an African Union summit urged the ICC to refer the charges against Kenyatta and Ruto back to the Kenyan courts.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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