ICC to allow video hearing for some defendants
Defendants at the International Criminal Court may be allowed to attend their trial through video-conference rather than in person, member states of the court decided Wednesday, amid a bid by Kenya's leaders to be excused from their trials.
"An accused subject to summons to appear may submit a written request to the Trial Chamber to be allowed to be present through the use of video technology during part or parts of his or her trial," the document approved by the 122 state parties of the court said.
"The Trial Chamber shall rule on the request on case-by-case basis," added the document seen by AFP.
A spokeswoman for the state parties confirmed that the text was adopted Wednesday evening.
The parties also agreed to accord special status to a defendant who is "mandated to fulfill extraordinary public duties".
The relaxed trial condition came amid a push by Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto to be excused from attending their separate trials.
The two, who are accused of fomenting political unrest after a 2007 election in which more than 1,100 people died, argue that their presence at the trials would hamper the running of their country.
Just a day ago, the ICC reversed a ruling to allow Kenyatta to attend only parts of his trial.
Rights group Amnesty International criticised the state parties' decision, noting "it's the first time a distinction for persons with official capacity has been recognised in internationals trials for crimes under international law, striking at the notion of equality before the law."
The assembly of the court's 122 member states opened on November 20 at the Hague and is due to go on until Thursday.
The meeting has been seized by some African countries as an opportunity to criticise an institution that they say discriminates against their continent.
© 2013 AFP