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ICC suspects to face trial despite elections outcome

COUNTIES
By - | June 24th 2012

By BEAUTTAH OMANGA

The impending trial of four Kenyans at the International Criminal Court (ICC) dominated discussions in Rift Valley, thanks to the return of court officials.

Residents raised concerns once again whether ICC would summon President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga during trials, as they were key players in the disputed elections.

The ICC field outreach co-ordinator for Kenya, Maria Kamara, put up a strong defence of the new Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda following inquiries over her ability to deliver justice.

A participant wanted assurance that Ms Bensouda would be strong and aggressive like her predecessor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

“Bensouda has a long history of punishing injustice to fellow human beings and there is no reason anybody should doubt her ability. Issues on human rights, more so those concerning women and children, are dear to her. She has been a deputy to Moreno-Ocampo for many years and she has the necessary experience to deliver justice,” said Ms Kamara.

Residents also sought to know why the office of the prosecutor hurriedly preferred charges against six Kenyans, only to ask for more time to put together evidence. The court dropped charges against two suspects, Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali.  But Kamara allayed fears that the ICC might summon the principals saying “such a move would entirely depend on either the prosecution or the defence teams but not the court itself”.

“The ICC is a court like any other and it does not pre-determine the course of a case and who presents what evidence. On whether so-and-so will be called, that’s not for the court to decide,” she said.

Kamara reiterated that the court would not be sucked into Kenyan politics on whether two suspects facing trial should stand for presidential elections.

She, however, maintained that even if Eldoret North MP William Ruto or Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta are elected president, their trials at the ICC would still proceed to conclusion.

Personal attendance

The official explained that while it was not within the ICC’s mandate to decide for Kenyans who to elect president, the court’s procedures, including trials, must continue to their conclusion regardless of the suspects’ status at the time.

“Before the ICC, the four Kenyans remain suspects who must abide by the judicial procedures including attendance when the trials will be in session. If Kenyans elect either of the suspects their next president, that’s their business but the trials and personal attendance must be complied with,” she said.

Other ICC suspects are former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and radio journalist Joshua Sang. Uhuru and Ruto have declared that their names will be on the ballot despite the ICC case. And Raila has added his voice to The Hague debate saying none of the candidates should be blocked from seeking the presidency.

Kamara was forced to repeatedly explain the same issue following persistent questions on whether the ICC will still go ahead and arrest the suspects in case Kenyans decided to elect one of them as president.

On the setting free of Mr Kosgey and Mr Ali, participants demanded to know why suspects who faced similar charges were given different verdicts.

Liberation fee

Kamara reaffirmed that ICC was interested in delivering justice to victims and suspects and that it had no fixed mind on what the outcome of the case will be.

 The audience at the Nakuru Municipal hall sought explanation as to why the ICC was concentrating its investigations in Rift Valley Province yet chaos were wide spread in seven provinces. “We are not unfairly targeting any community or leaders. We at the ICC are guided by the evidence gathered by the office of the prosecutor and mainly on those believed to have played key roles in the chaos,” she said.

The official revealed that the office of the prosecutor was not influenced by the Waki report and the one compiled by the Kenya National Human Rights as claimed by some individuals, but Moreno-Ocampo merely used the documents to conclude that crimes against humanity were committed that warranted the intervention of the court.

“After Kenyans, through their MPs, referred the matter to the ICC the office of the prosecutor was free to go through the already available evidence in getting a bearing but finally it carried out its own investigations leading to the preferring of charges against the six Kenyans,” she said.

She said in case four Kenyans facing full trial are found guilty, then the court will decide on whether they will be required to pay the liberation fee to victims or not.
 

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