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Ocampo's room of dark secrets

BUSINESS
By | October 15th 2010

By Ben Agina at The Hague

Post-election violence suspects have zero chance of tampering with evidence secured by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has locked up records of their dark deeds in a white, high security vault that has never been photographed. In a fireproof safe inside this vault are six boxes of evidence related to the 2007-08 post-election violence, and the envelope carrying the names of leading suspects, which were handed over to Ocampo in 2009.

In addition, the safe also holds recent evidence collected by ICC teams that visited Kenya, including statements from witnesses and victims, and confessions by perpetrators.

So secret is the white vault that only photographs of the safe inside exist.

The court mounted pressure on the suspects when it opened the room storing the evidence to show its commitment, a day after it was revealed that a prominent Kenyan had offered to appear before the ICC to avoid arrest warrants being issued against him.

Only a very limited number of people are allowed to access the room, because the evidence is highly sensitive and confidential, and will only be opened when the suspects appear before the three-judge bench at The Hague at the Pre-Trial Chamber II in December.

Ocampo has already secured key witnesses in Kenya, and it is expected they will testify to support the evidence.

The ICC has sent teams of investigators to Kenya where they are expected to continue profiling more witnesses to further tighten the case against prime suspects.

Three Cabinet ministers received written invitations two weeks ago, asking them to avail themselves for interrogation over the killings that saw over 1000 Kenyans lose their lives over the disputed presidential election results.

Yesterday, Ocampo for the first time revealed where all materials containing the damning dossier on the perpetrators of the 2008 post-election mayhem were kept.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo meets Kenyan journalists Eric Shimoli (Daily Nation) and The Standard News Editor Ben Agina at The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday. [PHOTO: COURTESY/STANDARD]

But Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti, who chairs the cabinet sub-committee dealing with ICC, categorically stated that the Government would vet some of the minutes before they were handed over to the investigators.

"We are in the process of compiling the necessary minutes as they are many, and we shall give ICC the relevant ones," Saitoti told The Standard at the time.

The Standard further learnt Attorney General Amos Wako and National Security Intelligence Service Director General Major General (rtd) Michael Gichangi were mandated to sift through all security memos and reports used during the post-election violence period, decide what was relevant and submit the same to the Cabinet sub committee on the ICC.

The latter was to scrutinise the report and decide whether or not the evidence should be given to the investigators.

The investigators were to meet PCs and PPOs who led the security teams in the violence hotspots in Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western, Central, Nairobi and Coast provinces, after their lawyers had briefed them.

Two members of the ICC delegation met the sub-committee during which the Government promised them full cooperation.

The Chief Justice then appointed High Court Judge Kalpana Rawal to take statements from government officers.

The CJ invoked sections 77 and 78 of the International Crimes Act, 2008, which demand that evidence to the ICC officials be taken before a Judge of the High Court.

A new twist emerged last month over the ICC investigations, as leaders from one ethnic group alleged the community was being targeted.

Members of Parliament from the Kikuyu community raised the red flag at the Party of National Unity (PNU) parliamentary group meeting in Nairobi.

Documents allegedly linking the some top leaders in the community to revenge killings in Naivasha in the post-election violence were tabled at the meeting attended by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti.

The MPs questioned the impartiality of The Hague-based court throwing new hurdles into the probe.

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