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Raila gives tough set of conditions for local tribunal

BUSINESS
By | March 24th 2011

By Martin Mutua and Beauttah Omanga

Prime Minister Raila Odinga wants US's Federal Bureau of Investigations or Britain's Scotland Yard detectives to investigate post-election violence suspects as a pre-condition for a local tribunal.

He also declared his party wants the ‘Ocampo Six’ tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for post-election violence.

His statement in Parliament Wednesday evening came 24 hours after he chaired an ODM Parliamentary Group (PG) meeting, which agreed to assist three of its members on the Ocampo list.

To guarantee the independence of the local judicial process, over which the ‘Ocampo Six’ have a date with ICC judges at The Hague in a fortnight, the premier also wants involvement of an independent prosecutor.

He gave the set of conditions to back his party’s support for a process that would counter and replace the President and Vice- President’s doomed pursuit for a deferral of Kenya’s cases at the ICC.

Local tribunal

In its place Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement wants the country to pursue a process of seeking referral of the ICC cases back for trial by a local tribunal.

Raila argued: "They should prove their innocence at The Hague instead of declaring it to their ethnic communities."

ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and one of his deputies William Ruto, and Kass FM presenter, Joshua arap Sang, are among the Ocampo Six. They are being accused by Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of allegedly perpetrating violence against perceived supporters of Party of National Unity. It is these three that ODM has reportedly agreed to gather evidence and defend at The Hague.

Sources had earlier told The Standard ODM Parliamentary Group decided to contact top lawyers to defend the three if they are put on trial at The Hague.

But Raila, who was answering MPs’ questions, dismissed reports ODM had changed its position on the Ocampo six. He has publicly stated that the suspects should go to the ICC because the local judicial system was not credible.

Yesterday, Raila told Parliament that if the six are innocent at The Hague they would also be innocent in Kenya and therefore there was nothing to fear.

He said it was unfortunate that nobody was thinking about the 1,200 Kenyans who had died as a result of the violence, but instead attention was directed at the Ocampo Six.

"All we are hearing is about the innocence of the Ocampo Six yet 1200 Kenyans were killed; some were burnt in a church, others were killed in Naivasha, while others were shot in Kisumu and Kibera, yet nobody is talking about it," he added.

The PM further went on: "If the six are innocent then there must be another ten who are guilty of these crimes and they must be prosecuted." The PM was responding to a question by Mutitu MP Kiema Kilonzo who sought to know why ODM was "changing like a chameleon" on the ICC.

The idea of supporting the six was pushed through at the PG despite objection from some members, after Cabinet ministers Charity Ngilu and Amason Kingi supported by Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, backed it.

Made appeal

Multiple sources told The Standard the decision was arrived at during a meeting chaired by Raila at party’s Orange House headquarters. "Ngilu, Kingi and Farah said some of the suspects like Mr Sang had made an appeal for assistance and they should therefore be assisted," said ODM Chief Whip, Jakoyo Midiwo. Kingi represents ODM on the Cabinet sub-committee handling the ICC case on behalf of the Government.

Ruto welcomed the ODM position, saying it would allow the country to handle the two cases facing the six suspects, himself, included.

"Now it seems everybody is reading from the same script as all partners in the Coalition Government have agreed we need a solution, which is good for the victims of post-election violence and fair for the six suspects," Ruto said.

The MP was Speaking at the Kenya Highlands Evangelical University, Kericho, during the official granting of a charter by President Kibaki.

Ruto, however, said he was ready for the case at the ICC with expectations the mater would be handled expeditiously.

In Parliament, Kiema sought a clarification from Raila during the PM’s question time. "Mr Speaker, I have just come back from South Africa and investors are worried about the issue of ICC trials. Therefore, I would like the PM to clarify his party’s position whether they are for referral or deferral since they have been changing their positions like chameleons," explained Kiema.

Out of order

But House Speaker Kenneth Marende told Kiema members do not change like chameleons and that the words were out of order. He directed him to withdraw, and apologise to the PM and the ODM members. He obliged.

But in responding the PM told an attentive House ODM’s position had not changed and would not change.

Sources revealed Lands Minister James Orengo was mandated by ODM MPs to look at the kind of legal assistance the party could offer.

On Tuesday afternoon, immediately after the ODM PG, Orengo stirred fresh controversy by accusing PNU of making unilateral decisions claiming it was the Government position. He warned such decisions could have dire consequences.

In a terse letter to the Attorney General, Orengo reminded the chief legal advisor, "It is important that legal advice should be sought and given in an appropriate manner."

Said Orengo: "There is a Coalition Government established under the National Accord and Reconciliation Act 2008 and the Constitution of Kenya. You may want to overlook this, but it is a concern raised by Sir Geoffrey Nice and Mr Rodney Dixon."

Sir Geoffrey and Dixon are the two lawyers hired by the State to challenge the case of admissibility of the Kenya case at The Hague.

Spirit of accord

He demanded Cabinet Sub-Committee on ICC meets together with the Cabinet to deliberate on the matter in the spirit of the Accord, consultations and compromise.

Kenya is expected to act before April 1, if it were to challenge the admissibility of the case.

Orengo reminded Mr Amos Wako of recent failed nominations made by Kibaki to three key judicial posts. Wako said on Tuesday the two British lawyers had been instructed to file a motion challenging the admissibility of the ICC cases.

"We have only one opportunity otherwise we will be called a failed State," said Wako while supporting the move.

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