By Alex Ndegwa
The International Criminal Court Pre-Trial Chamber judges have decided not to allow four Kenyans accused of crimes against humanity to appeal their committal to trial.
The judges found the issues raised by Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura in their applications to be disagreements of the majority decision, not grounds for appeal. They also dismissed objections by William Ruto and Joshua Sang about the quality of investigations done by ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
Under the rules of the International Criminal Court, the Pre-Trial Chamber must give leave or permission for an appeal of a confirmation of charges decision. The judges only allow appeals on a limited number of grounds.
By rejecting the applications by the four, the judges have paved the way for the four to appear at The Hague to stand trial. The decision is also a blow to planned presidential campaigns by Uhuru, a Deputy Prime Minister, and Ruto, Eldoret North MP, as they must be present at The Hague should trials begin.
This is the second setback in a week for the Ocampo Four, following another ruling last week by the ICC Appeals Division that their trials can go ahead pending determination of their appeal on jurisdiction. The defendantsâ only hope to avoid trial now lies in the deliberations by the Appeals Chamber on whether the ICC has jurisdiction to try the two Kenya cases.
No sufficient grounds
On Friday, Pre-Trial Chamber II Judges Ekaterina Trendafilova and Cuno Tarfusser ruled the four did not establish sufficient grounds to obtain clearance to appeal against the January 23 majority decision to confirm charges against them.
Judge Hans-Peter Kaul did not assess the pleas because he has repeatedly dissented in past rulings, arguing the ICC lacks jurisdiction.
The judges dismissed eight issues on which Muthauraâs defence sought leave to appeal the decision to commit him to trial, as well as five raised by Uhuruâs lawyers. The two had, among other things, contested what they described as reversal of the burden of proof and alleged prosecution failures to investigate issues that would have proved them innocent.