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Raila's parting shot to Ocampo

BUSINESS
By | December 3rd 2010

By ALEX NDEGWA and BEAUTTAH OMANGA

Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s parting advice to Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo was plain enough: Remember why post-election violence erupted in the first place. Speaking in the presence of the International Criminal Court prosecutor yesterday, and flanked by chief mediator Kofi Annan, Raila said Moreno-Ocampo, who files his case against six key suspected masterminds of the 2007-2008 killings, should remember the violence was triggered by a bungled presidential election. The PM has always maintained victory was snatched from him.

Raila said those who "messed up" the elections should be punished, because "we need to deal with the root cause of the violence, and not the symptoms."

But when it was his turn to speak, Moreno-Ocampo said: "I want to be clear. We are not investigating the elections. We are not analysing political responsibilities. We are not making any judgement on the political parties. We are investigating murders, rapes and forced displacements, which constitute crimes against humanity."

On his case against six Kenyans, the prosecutor said they would face trials in 2012, and their identities would be unveiled by December 17.

"There are no doubts that massive crimes were committed in Kenya. The issue is who is responsible. Someone is responsible. This is my challenge. To prove who are the most responsible for the crimes committed," he said.

The PM said investigations into post-election violence should include those who allegedly rigged the polls, because they triggered the mayhem.

"Let us not lose focus of how it all started. Some leaders messed the elections leading to the chaos. Let’s treat the causes not the symptoms."

The PM’s statement came a day after Moreno-Ocampo announced he was ready to swing into action against masterminds of post-election violence.

On Wednesday, Moreno-Ocampo told Kibaki and Raila in a closed-door meeting he was ready to file two cases targeting six prominent persons he wants to charge with crimes against humanity.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga with mediator Kofi Annan (centre) and ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo on Thursday.

Raila’s comments yesterday at the ongoing Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation conference in Nairobi now puts him on the same side with his political ally-turned-foe, Eldoret North MP William Ruto. Ruto has previously said that the ICC process should focus on the mismanaged elections that preceded the violence.

Spontaneous reaction

The suspended Higher Education minister has said the demonstrations accompanied by violent acts were a spontaneous reaction to the manner the disbanded Electoral Commission of Kenya handled the 2007 presidential election.

Police killed about 500 of 1,300 people who died during the chaos.

Ruto and his political allies have previously accused Raila of turning his back on the people who "came to the streets" to respond to ODM’s call for mass action.

And speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Ruto said the ICC prosecutor was depending on ‘cooked up’ testimonies to support the Kenya case. He said he was not convinced that Moreno-Ocampo had done adequate investigations to warrant prosecutions of Kenyans at The Hague.

"I am of the view that Moreno-Ocampo is still relying on the bribed witnesses to make a case against some Kenyans, which to me will in the end amount to fraud," said Ruto.

Ruto was adversely mentioned in a report prepared by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The same report was handed over to the ICC in 2008. The MP has also attacked the Waki Commission, accusing it of wrongly saying in its final report that Ruto had testified during its hearings.

Early last month, Ruto voluntary travelled to The Hague to meet ICC investigators, ostensibly to give his side of the story.

Raila remarks was his first time in several months he mentioned the violence that forced him and President Kibaki to share power under a peace deal Kofi Annan brokered in 2008.

Raila has lately focused on trying to bridge divisions among Cabinet ministers serving the Grand Coalition Government. Moreno-Ocampo said names of the suspects would be known by December 17, and he expects ICC to issue summons early next year.

And Moreno-Ocampo put on notice persons reportedly attempting to bribe or intimidate individuals perceived to be ICC witnesses, saying they risk prosecution at The Hague for obstructing justice.

NO ARREST WARRANTS

Moreno-Ocampo gave timelines for the judicial process with the wheels of justice grinding to a start, with summons for suspects to appear at The Hague expected early next year, and trials in late 2012 or early 2013.

"There are two different cases, each involving three individuals who have to face justice. Their names will be known … they have to go to The Hague," he said.

The prosecutor said he will not request an arrest warrant, but instead ask the Pre-Trial judges to issue summons for suspects to appear in court.

Only if they ignore the summons, would arrest warrants follow.

However, he had some good news for the suspects who may have agonised over the nightmare of spending time behind bars miles away from home. Moreno-Ocampo said if the individuals identified obey the summons and agree to appear voluntarily, the judges may allow them to remain free during the trial.

The ICC prosecutor also spoke on the status of ICC investigations during a conference to assess implementation of reforms two years after signing of the National Accord in 2008.

He said investigations had reached "preliminary conclusions" and "we are ready to present our cases to the judges of the ICC in the next two weeks."

First, the individuals identified by the prosecution should express their willingness to appear voluntarily before the judges.

Secondly, the Pre-Trial Chamber judges could reject the prosecutions request to issue summons to appear, approve it or transform it into a warrant of arrest. He indicated this could happen during the first part of next year.

Third, if the judges sanction the prosecutor’s request, the suspects would present themselves to The Hague to make their initial appearance in court.

The fourth stage is a public hearing to confirm the charges once judges rule the evidence is solid enough to proceed to trial.

Moreno-Ocampo said lawyers could represent the suspects at this stage, which, he added, could happen in the second part of next year or early 2012.

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