The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has asked judges to delay the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta so she can obtain more evidence.
In a statement Thursday, Fatou Bensouda said that after the loss of two key witnesses, she believes the case against Kenyatta "does not satisfy" the high standards of evidence required at trial.
Bensouda said she needs time to obtain additional evidence, and to consider whether such evidence will be sufficient to prosecute the Kenyan president.
African nations have pressured the ICC to drop the cases against Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. Both men are accused of orchestrating violence after Kenya's 2007 presidential election that left more than 1,100 people dead.
Ruto's trial began in September, while Kenyatta's trial is due to begin February 5.
Bensouda said one of the key witnesses in Kenyatta's case has indicated he is no longer willing to testify. She said a second key witness recently confessed to giving false evidence regarding a critical event in the prosecution's case.
She said her decision to seek a delay is "based solely on the specific facts of this case devoid of extraneous considerations."
Human Rights Watch says the prosecutor's announcement is deeply disturbing for all those "who look to the ICC to provide justice where there has been none in Kenya."
Human Rights Watch justice counsel Elizabeth Evenson says Bensouda's statement has come in the context of an "unprecedented climate of witness intimidation" that Kenya's government has failed to check.
Evenson said Human Rights Watch hopes the prosecutor will take every appropriate step to continue her investigation.