ICC says Uhuru not immune to trial

By FELIX OLICK at The Hague

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has clarified that international law does not exempt a sitting president from prosecution.

ICC’s warning comes a day after Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Amb Amina Mohamed implied that President Uhuru Kenyatta, as a sitting president is immune to prosecution.

In what appeared like a warning salvo to the country’s leadership, Court Registrar Herman von Hebel maintained that the Rome Statute is clear that there is no immunity for anyone including heads of states

“I don’t think its right to say that a sitting president cannot sit in a trial,” Hebel pointed out before adding: “I have worked in the Yugoslav Tribunal where at one point the Prime Minister, an equivalent to the Head of State of Kosovo stepped down and had someone else take over the job and came to the Hague in order to face justice,” he told journalists on Wednesday evening.

On Wednesday, Ambassador Mohammed had said: “It is going to be the first time a serving Head of State is brought before any court of any kind, not just here, but anywhere in the world, and I could challenge you to tell me in what place on earth a serving president has been brought before a court of justice.”

But the Registrar added yesterday: “The ICC statute itself makes it very clear that there is no immunity for anyone including heads of States.”

This, even as it emerged that Deputy President William Ruto will be back in Nairobi to allow his boss to attend the African Union summit to discuss a possible united pullout from the ICC.

Court Registrar Herman von Hebel cautioned that attempts to pull out from the ICC founding treaty, the Rome Statute, would send the wrong signal about Africa’s commitment to protect and promote human rights and reject impunity.

“The court was established to fight impunity in order to bring justice to the victims,” he pointed out adding that victims of atrocities across the globe believe in the ICC process.

Hebel also answered Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed who appeared to suggest that President Kenyatta may not travel to The Hague when his trial starts on November 12.