PARIS — The International Criminal Court dropped its case against the deputy president of Kenya, William Ruto, on Tuesday, marking another setback for the court and ending a long, tortuous case that tangled Kenya’s relations with the West and rearranged Kenyan politics.
A divided panel decided, 2 to 1, to vacate the case against Mr. Ruto and a prominent radio host, Joshua arap Sang. The two men were charged with crimes against humanity in connection with the 2007-8 postelection chaos in Kenya that left more than 1,200 people dead and many others wounded or raped, and forced about 600,000 to flee.
The chief judge, Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria, declared a mistrial “due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling.” While Mr. Ruto agreed to stand trial, the Kenyan government has steadfastly resisted cooperating with the tribunal.
One Kenyan television station called the collapse of the case the “Great Escape.” Kenya’s interior minister, Joseph Nkaissery, said “our prayers had been answered.” In Mr. Ruto’s hometown, Eldoret, people poured into the streets Tuesday evening, hugging each other.
The decision by the court came 16 months after the prosecutor said its office had no choice but to suspend the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta even before the trial began. That case, on charges similar to those against Mr. Ruto, was hampered because the government was blocking most avenues of investigation and witnesses were threatened and bribed, the prosecution said.
The decision is a serious setback for the office of the international criminal prosecutor, whose jurisdiction began in 2002, but also for the court itself, which is still struggling to assert its authority.