International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Ms Fatou Bensouda. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Prosecutor also hints at appealing ICC ruling freeing DP and Sang.ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday demanded the immediate extradition of Mr Walter Barasa, lawyer Paul Gicheru and Mr Philip Bett to the Netherlands for trial over alleged bribery and intimidation of witnesses.
- ICC Prosecutor has demanded immediate extradition of Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Philip Bett over alleged witness bribery and intimidation.
- Warrants of arrest have already been issued by the International Criminal Court against the three.
- There is widespread speculation in political circles that Ms Bensouda might have obtained sealed warrants for more suspects.
Warrants of arrest have already been issued by the International Criminal Court against the three and there is widespread speculation in political circles that Ms Bensouda might have obtained sealed warrants for more suspects.
Demands for the suspects come a day after Ms Bensouda suffered a spectacular defeat in the court where majority of the judges ruled that she had not presented sufficient evidence to convict Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
But the judges agreed with her that there had been witness tampering and political meddling in the case and declared a mistrial.
While asking for the three suspects to be surrendered to the court, Ms Bensouda said: “As noted in yesterday’s (Tuesday) decision, the Accused, Messrs Ruto and Sang, profited from such interference with the administration of justice.”
She added: “I call on the authorities of the Republic of Kenya to fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute, and surrender these three suspects to the Court without further delay, so their guilt or innocence of the charges against them may be independently and impartially determined in a trial.”
She was supported by the Obama administration which urged the government to surrender those suspected of interfering with witnesses and also prosecute those who committed crimes during the post-election period.
In a statement, the US State Department called on Kenya to “pursue justice for the victims of the [post-election] violence and hold accountable those responsible for it”.
Kenya should further “provide services and reparations for the survivors of sexual violence and other crimes,” added a statement by Jeffrey Loree, spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Africa Affairs.
“These steps are vital to ensuring that Kenya is never again ravaged by such violence,” the US statement declared.
Mr Gicheru and Mr Bett were arrested in Nairobi last July. But neither they nor Mr Barasa have been handed over to the ICC.
Wednesday, the prosecutor hinted that she may appeal Tuesday’s ruling which freed Mr Ruto and Mr Sang of charges of crimes against humanity.
But it is the appeal chamber which disallowed her attempt to admit evidence recanted by witnesses in the trial, which effectively knocked out the case.
Ms Bensouda, at the same time, narrated the ordeal she said her office encountered as it gathered evidence against Mr Ruto and his co-accused Mr Sang and what she said was massive interference with witnesses which led to the collapse of the case.
In a statement after Trial Chamber judges blamed her office for the failure to present sufficient evidence to convict the accused, the ICC prosecutor appeared to argue that there was no acquittal in the case because of the special circumstances her office faced.
“ In so doing, the Chamber endorsed the Prosecution’s position that this case has been severely undermined by witness interference and politicisation of the judicial process,” she said.
Quoting from the ruling by Judges Chile Eboe-Osuji and Robert Fremr, she submitted that the outcome of the case would have been different were it not for the obstacles that her team encountered during its investigations.
Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia dissented. “The decision further noted that other evidence may have been available to the Prosecution had it been able to prosecute the case in a different climate, less hostile to the Prosecution, its witnesses and the Court in general,” she said.
Ms Bensouda added that the judges were denied a chance to make the right decision because of deliberate efforts by the government and the accused to interfere with the witnesses.
But she gave the victims a glimmer of hope, promising that they were studying the judgement to determine the next course of action.
“We are currently in the process of carefully assessing the Trial Chamber’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps,” she said.
The two judges declared the proceedings “a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling”.