Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta owns no land: ICC told

Hague, Netherlands: It was a stormy session at the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the prosecution locked horns with the Kenya Government over alleged failure to co-operate in the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Office of the Prosecution accused the Government of failing to provide substantial, personal information touching on President Kenyatta, including his business and political associates.

But the Government, led by Attorney General Githu Muigai, rebutted, accusing the prosecution of providing vague requests that could not be acted on.

The highlight was claims by the Government that it could not trace any records indicating that Uhuru owned any land or companies in Kenya. It also could not trace any telephone lines or data owned by or linked to the President in 2007 and 2008.

Uhuru's defence team members, who were only sideline participants in the proceedings, however railed at the prosecution, accusing it of putting obstacles for the Government to sustain a dead case.

The drama unfolded at a status conference in The Hague, Netherlands, part of which was held in private and two hours of it in open session.

The morning session proceeded without involvement by the defence as the Prosecution and the Government briefed the court on the co-operation.

The prosecution requested information classified under eight specific categories. These are records of companies owned by or associated with President Kenyatta between June 2007 and December 2010, land records, income tax returns, motor vehicles, bank records, foreign exchange, telephone records and intelligence records.

The information had been sought to determine whether the prosecution could proceed or terminate the case after conceding in February that they had no other tangible evidence against Uhuru.

But the prosecution raised issue with the material and answers given by the Government in each of the categories.

In a letter to the court, Lands Cabinet Secretary Charity Ngilu explained that her ministry was in the process of reorganising its operations and had discovered that 1.3 million files were lost, misplaced or misfiled.

She said they had not located any information on land owned by President Kenyatta.

"We have no records at the moment that the person owns land," the minister explained.

The prosecution had further asked for Uhuru's income tax and VAT records. The Government responded that there were no VAT records on him but provided his income and tax return records since 1992, which the prosecution said was not the requested information.

The court heard that before 2010, only four vehicles were registered in Uhuru's name.

bank records

There was no information provided on vehicles owned by any company he owns or closely linked to him.

The prosecution had, however, been given details of Uhuru's bank account records covering November 2007 to February 2008. These had been given with Uhuru's consent. The prosecution wants the Chamber to determine whether the activities in these records are consistent.

The Government could not, however, provide such records for any companies associated with Uhuru or third parties, saying the information was not specific.

The Government had also not provided any information on foreign exchange records linked to the President. The prosecution had asked for identification numbers of telephone lines accessed and used by Uhuru and the data records. In a letter, they were informed  by the Communications Authority of Kenya that at the time, Kenya did not have a comprehensive regime of registering such subscribers and data.

But the prosecution insisted that such information could be traced from the mobile phone companies. In particular, they asked that the Government be pushed to produce records of numbers that were in constant communication with Uhuru at the time.

On intelligence reports on Uhuru, the National Intelligence Service told the prosecutor, through a letter dated June 19, that Uhuru was not a target hence they had no intelligence records on him.

The prosecution demanded that the Government provides intelligence on companies linked to Uhuru.

The court dealt with each item, hearing the nature of the request and the response filed by the Government.

The prosecution maintained that the Government had the capacity to provide the information but was unwilling to co-operate.

The Government had explained that it could not provide records on all the companies owned by Uhuru or associated with him, saying before 2009, such records were maintained manually hence it was impossible to do the requested search.

On each item, the AG asked the prosecution to produce specific information.

The Lands ministry asked the prosecution to provide specific numbers of land that the registry could search for.

The prosecution was asked to file written submissions on the state of their requests by tomorrow while the Government was asked to file their submission on the level of co-operation by July 16.

The court, however, asked the parties to carry on with the co-operation and negotiations even as they prepared the submissions.

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ICC-Uhuru Status Conference International Criminal Court Uhuru Kenyatta