Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ruto denies bid to halt ICC trials

Posted  Thursday, May 9  2013 at  23:30

Deputy President William Ruto’s lawyer on Thursday distanced himself from plans by the government to terminate crimes against humanity charges facing him, President Uhuru Kenyatta and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court.
Lawyer Karim Khan said Mr Ruto was not consulted on the matter.
On Tuesday, Kenya’s permanent representative to the UN Macharia Kamau petitioned the United Nations Security Council to terminate crimes against humanity charges facing the three.
Mr Khan said Mr Ruto had cooperated with ICC since his case started and he would continue doing so.
“I have spoken to my client, His Excellency the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr William Ruto, and I can confirm and he has made clear that he was not consulted on anything to do with New York. A letter being circulated is not government policy,” Mr Khan said in a telephone interview.
He said it was important to underline that Mr Ruto has cooperated with the ICC before the summons against him were issued, after they were issued, and he is currently cooperating and will respect all orders and directives of the ICC.
“His Excellency the Deputy President believes in the rule of law and he believes in Kenya observing its international obligations,” he added.
Judges impartial
The lawyer said Mr Ruto expressed confidence in the ICC judges and believe they are impartial.
“Of course we vigorously deny all the prosecution allegations against the Deputy President. We say that investigations were inefficient, some witnesses are telling clear lies and lie in some accounts and that the narrative of the prosecution will not withstand scrutiny,” he noted.
In a petition to the UN Security Council on May 2, Kenya asked for the termination of the cases on the grounds that the charges were not fair. The security council is expected to meet ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda over the petition.
However on Wednesday while arguing the Libyan case, Ms Bensouda told the council that the “ICC will not shy away from investigating individuals for any alleged crimes irrespective of their status.”
She was responding to comments by Rwandan ambassador to the UN Eugene-Richard Gasana urging the council to act on Kenya’s letter.
“In this regard, even the signatories of the Rome Statute have recently expressed concerns on that Court. I may recall the note verbale dated Thursday 2 May 2013 addressed by the Kenya Mission to the Security Council, containing a compelling case against the methods of work of the Office of the Prosecutor, on the Kenyan cases. This was also pointed out by a judge of the ICC, who recently resigned,” Mr Gasana said.
However, Ms Bensouda said she could not respond on the claims because they had not been officially lodged with her office.
“The letter referred to by the Permanent Representative of Rwanda has not been transmitted to us. We therefore reserve our right to respond to it in detail in due course and we hope that will be given that opportunity once it has been transmitted to us.”
Questioned jurisdiction
In its statement, the Kenyan mission had said: “What this delegation is asking for is not deferral. What this delegation is asking for is the immediate termination of the case in The Hague without much further ado.”
The statement warned that violence might break out in Kenya and affect stability in the entire region if President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto were forced to attend trial in The Hague after having secured endorsement of Kenyans in the March 4 elections despite the charges facing them.
The petition questioned the jurisdiction, partiality and competence of the ICC, expressing the government’s reservations over the manner in which the cases facing the three had been handled.
But in a terse rejoinder, Ms Bensouda said: “I reject as an unfounded attempt to discredit the work of the International Criminal Court any insinuation that the assignment of the Judge Christine Van de Wyngaert has anything to do with the working methods of the Office of the Prosecutor or the Court as a whole.”
Kenya argues the proceedings against President Kenyatta, Mr Ruto and Mr Sang are misplaced in light of the prevailing circumstances and lack of cogent evidence to back the charges.
“The original claims might have been false and or manufactured. It has since come to light that the evidence could be tainted and or procured through inducement and or corrupt measures,” Mr Kamau said in a confidential letter to Mr Menan Kodjo, the president of the UN Security Council.

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