Kenya's Ruto insists he is committed to ICC trial

Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto said Wednesday he was committed to his International Criminal Court trial despite calls for it to be postponed, provided he could be excused to "fight terror".

Speaking at a press conference at a hotel a stone's throw from the Hague-based ICC, Ruto said the recent attack on a Nairobi mall had prompted Kenya to call on the UN Security Council to postpone the case for a year.

"Kenya has already filed with the UN Security Council for a deferral in the case," said Ruto, who faces three counts of murder, deportation and persecution for his role in the deadly aftermath of Kenya's presidential polls in late 2007.

"But more preferably, we would want to ask the court's decision to grant us excusal from continuous attendance," Ruto said.

Judges in July ruled that Ruto could be excused from parts of his trial, but suspended that decision a month later after the prosecution appealed.

A ruling on the matter is still pending, but that decision has been overshadowed by the September 21 terror attack and siege of Nairobi's upmarket Westgate Mall which left at least 67 people dead.

The African Union on Saturday said it would urge the UN to suspend ICC cases against African leaders under an article in the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, which allows for cases to be suspended for up to a year.

The suspension is however linked to the UN Charter's Chapter VII, which refers to threats against the peace, breach of peace or an act of aggression.

Ruto and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta now "believe that there are legitimate reasons for the deferral of this case -- to give Kenya the best possible chance to handle the serious challenges in our region, the world and our country, the matter of global concern about terrorism."

"It is... clear that the President of Kenya and myself as his deputy need every space to be able to deal with this challenge, as we pursue the interest of justice," Ruto said.

"Balancing that interest with our responsibilities to run the country," he added.

Ruto went on trial last month, the highest-ranking serving official to do so before the ICC, on charges of masterminding some of the 2007-8 post-election violence in Kenya that left over 1,000 people dead and several hundred thousand displaced.

Ruto, 46, and Kenyan radio boss Joshua arap Sang, 38, stand accused of stoking the worst violence in the east African country since independence in 1963.

Both Ruto and his one-time foe and now political partner Kenyatta, who also goes on trial on November 12 on similar charges, have pledged their cooperation with the court and are maintaining their innocence.