The Hague - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's defence team said on Wednesday his crimes against humanity case before the International Criminal Court “has collapsed”, as judges considered dropping the high-profile trial.
“The prosecution has realised that its case has collapsed,” lawyer Steven Kay told judges in The Hague, where Kenyatta faces charges for his role in the deadly 2007-08 post-poll violence that rocked the east African country.
The ICC last month postponed Kenyatta's trial after prosecutors said they no longer had enough evidence to put him in the dock.
Kenyatta, 52, is facing five counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed under his direction in the aftermath of the disputed elections, in which prosecutors say more than 1 100 people died.
In an apparent last throw of the dice, prosecutors now want judges to rule that Nairobi has failed to cooperate with their investigation - especially in their request for financial statements which they say could prove Kenyatta's role in funding the violence.
Prosecutor Benjamin Gumpert said on Tuesday the investigation against Kenyatta had run into a brick wall and that a last avenue was to force Nairobi to hand over Kenyatta's financial records.
“Of the leads available to us, we have exhausted all reasonable prospects” of prosecuting Kenyatta, he told judges.
Without Kenyatta's financial records the likelihood of obtaining further conclusive evidence against him was “minimal”, he added.
Kenyatta's trial and that of his rival-turned-partner, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, who faces similar charges, have been dodged by problems and delays.
This included accusations of severe witness intimidation and withdrawals, false claims by other witnesses, and Kenya's international campaign to put the trials on hold.
Kenyatta's lawyers have previously asked the ICC to drop the charges and judges now have to make a ruling.
“The bottom line is that (Kenyatta's) government continues to thwart the prosecution's efforts to obtain information that may shed light on key allegations in this case,” ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a court document on Friday.
African leaders frequently complain that the ICC discriminates against their continent.
Both Kenyatta and Ruto, his one-time foe and now political partner, have maintained their innocence.