By Beauttah Omanga
Key Government officials met a team from International Criminal Court in secret as the country prepares for Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s visit next month.
The ICC Chief Prosecutor is expected any time after three weeks from today to officially launch investigations into crimes against humanity committed in Kenya since 2005. The visit follows the nod he got from the Pre-Trial Chamber to investigate high-profile Kenyans perceived to bear greatest responsibility for post-election violence.
The team sent from The Hague to lay the groundwork for investigations have been meeting senior Government officials.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo revealed he was among senior officials the investigators have met.
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He revealed the team was scheduled to meet Attorney General Amos Wako in the course of this week.
The team is operating under a shroud of secrecy leading to calls on them to make public their operations.
"I have met the ICC team and we discussed issues concerning their mission. I assured them of the Government’s maximum and necessary co-operation during their stay in the country," explained Mutula.
The minister, however, declined to reveal any further details and the itinerary of Moreno-Ocampo’s advance team.
He referred our inquiries about the team’s activities to Internal Security minister George Saitoti who, he said, should be aware of their plans.
"Details on where the team will be moving to should come from the Internal Security minister," said Mutula. Saitoti could not, however, be reached.
At the same time members of civil society concede they are cautious about discussing what they know about the team’s plans.
"We are aware that we are dealing with sensitive matters that will bring to an end the political careers of some leaders. Our interactions with the ICC should not be made public for the obvious dangers we are likely to expose ourselves to," said one of the civil society members.
The official, who declined to disclose if the societies have already met with the ICC representatives, said; "Please spare us any questions. If there is anything to be told to Kenyans, let it now come from the ICC itself."
The civil society activist said they were alerted all their movements and communications were being monitored by some of the influential suspects likely to be grilled by ICC on their alleged involvement in the post election violence as well as the Mount Elgon tortures.
But Kisumu-based lawyer James Mwamu cautioned ICC against operating in secrecy.
Mwamu wants the Government and the ICC to update Kenyans on the progress made to avoid speculation.
"The issue at hand is of momentous proportion to Kenyans and they have a right to know what is going on," said Mwamu.
He advised the ICC team to get more from members of Justice Philip Waki’s Judicial Commission, including top lawyers who took part.
"Justice Waki should be a crucial person to talk to and even South Africa’s Johann Kriegler who had an opportunity of talking to victims soon after the chaos advised,’’ said Mwamu, who is also Secretary-General of East Africa regional Law Society.
The ICC public diplomacy team arrived in the country last week and is expected to remain in the country for a while as they prepare ground for investigations against top Kenyans, some believed to be ministers and influence peddlers.
Moreno-Ocampo has stated he was determined to prosecute at least six prominent Kenyans even though his investigations will focus on at least 20 prominent Kenyans both in government and the business community. He has added that Kenyan will be a lesson to other countries where atrocities have been committed against civilians. While seeking permission to formally launch investigations, the prosecutor told the ICC judges his suspects were from both President Kibaki’s PNU and Prime minister Raila Odinga’s ODM.
From the Pre-Trial judgment authored by three ICC judges it is discernible Moreno-Ocampo is guided by Waki’s report as well as those by the UN Special Rapporteur Phillip Alston, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Federation of Kenya Lawyers, and his own preliminary findings.