Kenya-ICC tensions rise as Ruto attacks body in its own backyard
Posted Thursday, October 17 2013 at 01:00
Hague- Kenya deputy president William Ruto on Tuesday moved to escalate tensions between Kenya and International Criminal Court ( ICC) by attacking the prosecution case from a venue a stone-throw away from the trial chamber.
Mr Ruto chose to stage a press conference at Movenpick Hotel, a short distance from the ICC building and announced that Kenya had formally made an application to the United Nations Security Council seeking the rescheduling of the cases against him and president Uhuru Kenyatta.
His remarks come days after the African Union called on the UN Security Council to suspend the trial of the Kenyan leaders at the ICC.
Mr Ruto said the prosecution had failed miserably in its investigations against him and called on the court to terminate the case.
“It’s abundantly clear to us and that’s why we have filed several applications that this case as it runs should be terminated. The prosecution has failed miserably in its responsibility to discharge the mandate assigned to them under the Rome Statute,” he said.
The prosecution, he claimed, has been buying and manipulating witnesses to incriminate him and Mr Kenyatta in the violence that followed the disputed 2007 presidential vote.
The deputy president’s stance is similar to one by Mr Kenyatta last week, urging the stoppage of his trial, due to start on November 12, citing illegal conduct by the prosecution.
The president’s lawyers claimed the prosecution and its emissaries had bribed witnesses to give favourable testimony, fabricated evidence and tampered with possible defence witnesses.
The court’s insistence that the accused must be present in the courtroom throughout the trial had to be challenged because they had a government to run, he added.
“We believe that there are legitimate reasons for the deferral of this case to give Kenya the best possible chance to handle the serious challenges that exist in our region, in our country, a matter that is of global concern such as terrorism,” he said, endorsing the AU resolution to have the cases suspended.
Mr Ruto said he prefers being excused from continuous attendance of his trial so the case is heard to its logical end because he doesn’t want to be perceived as “short-changing the system”.
ICC judges had allowed Ruto to be absent from sessions of his trial but the prosecutor contested the ruling and won, but an appeal on the matter is pending.
Mr Ruto said Kenya is under threat because of its incursion into Somalia, which he described as the haven of the rag tag militia.
He said Kenya was waiting for the Security Council to take a decision on the African Union resolution for deferral of the cases.
“I think the AU was very clear and that’s why they decided that there will be a five-member Heads of State delegation that will pursue the matter of deferral of the Kenyan case with the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
At the weekend, president Uhuru Kenyatta launched a scathing attack on the ICC and Western powers, saying they had teamed up to humiliate African leaders. While addressing the African Union extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the President accused the court of acting on the whims of European governments against the sovereignty of African states. It was during this extraordinary summit that the AU resolved that President Uhuru should not show up for his trial on November 12. The AU expects the UN Security Council to have addressed the matter by that date.