In a new twist of development Kenya could face sanctions if it fails to handover three individuals wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over witness tampering allegation, an ICC court official has said.
ICC Spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said that Kenya was legally bound by the Rome Statute to implement arrest warrants issued against the three.
“In case of non-cooperation, the legal procedure before the ICC is for the Judges to make a finding of non-compliance and to refer it to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute for the Assembly to take any measure it deems appropriate,” said Abdallah as published by The Star on Tuesday, April 19.
Three days earlier, President Uhuru Kenyatta had indicated that no other Kenyan would stand trial at the ICC. President Uhuru, during the Saturday, April 16 thanksgiving rally at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium, said that no Kenyan would go to The Hague again as the country had its own judicial system.
“We will not allow any Kenyan to be taken out there… We have closed that chapter. We are not going back there,” he said.
The Afraha Stadium rally was to celebrate the termination of the ICC cases against Deputy President William Ruto, Joshua Sang, Uhuru and the three Kenyans who had been named by Moreno Ocampo in 2010. Other Kenyans listed by the then ICC chief prosecutor as having been the most responsible for the 2007/2008 violence were: Henry Kosgei, Francis Kimemia and Hussein Ali.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested the Kenyan Government to hand over the three suspects of witness tampering that is Paul Gicheru, Philip Bett and Walter Barasa – for apparently obstructing the course of justice.
Fatou Bensouda stated that 17 witnesses who had agreed to testify against Ruto and Sang withdrew their cooperation with the court after being subjected to intimidation, social isolation and threats.
ICC judges, led by Chile Eboe-Osuji, had acknowledged that William Ruto and Sang profited from prosecution witness tampering. The judges also ruled that Bensouda had the right to re-prosecute the case at a later time.
The court found reasonable grounds to believe that Bett and Gicheru were criminally responsible for ICC witness tampering offences which were outlined by ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
“Messrs Gicheru and Bett were involved in an organised and systematic criminal scheme, aimed at approaching and corrupting prosecution witnesses through bribes and other inducements, in exchange for their withdrawal as witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements,” Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
According to Fatou Bensouda, Bett contacted the witnesses and made withdrawal proposals; Gicheru finalised agreements and initiated reward payments. Bett allegedly approached Witness P-397 and introduced the witness to Gicheru who agreed to pay the witness KSh 5 million to withdraw statement. Gicheru apparently paid another witness KSh 1 million in two cash installments.
Fatou Bensouda maintained that her office had faced serious obstacles to unveil the truth, and to hold to account those most responsible for the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
In August 2013, the court had issued an arrest warrant against Barasa on similar charges of ICC witness tampering, contrary to Article 70(1)(c) of the Rome Statute.
The pre-trial chamber refused to substitute the warrant of arrest with summons to appear as requested by Barasa’s lawyer Nicholas Kaufman. Kaufman said his client is willing to appear in court if the warrant of arrest is withdrawn.
The judges ruled that Barasa would have to be detained at The Hague, until an interim release is granted, if he eventually appears voluntarily.