Subsequent to the Status Conferences last month and after hearing observations from the parties, the Trial Chamber postponed the Kenyatta/Muthaura case to 9 July 2013.
A week later, the Prosecutor decided the case against Muthaura was no longer worth pursuing in its current form. She has now dropped all charges against him, according to this press release.
She gave the following reasons for dropping the charges:
“…the fact that several people who may have provided important evidence regarding Mr Muthaura’s actions, have died, while others are too afraid to testify for the Prosecution.
the disappointing fact that the Government of Kenya failed to provide my Office with important evidence, and failed to facilitate our access to critical witnesses who may have shed light on the Muthaura case.
the fact that we have decided to drop the key witness against Mr. Muthaura after this witness recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted to us that he had accepted bribes.”
This is unprecedented at the ICC, though witness tampering has happened in cases in other tribunals (such as the ICTY). Of course, the defence argument would be that had she done sufficient investigations, she would have clearly seen the weaknesses in this case. This does not directly affect the Kenyatta case which the OTP will continue. Also no word as to whether the Prosecutor would seek fresh evidence to bring new charges for confirmation; this is not an acquittal, so the Prosecutor can still investigate Muthaura if she still believes he had a role in the crimes alleged.
The Trial Chamber has also postponed the Ruto/Sang case to 28 May, giving the Defence just over a month more to get ready.