Posted by Mariana on 25 Oct 2012 | Comments
By KARANJA NJOROGE and PETER OPIYO
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda confronted the horrors of internally displaced persons from the 2008 post-election violence. She also announced the Government has promised to deliver information on bank accounts and assets of the four Kenyans accused at The Hague of crimes against humanity as early as the end of next month, she noted.
“I stressed that time is of the essence given that our final list of evidence is due on January 9, 2013. The submission of this evidence is essential for giving the defence a fair trial,” said the Prosecutor.
She warned against any attempt to intimidate prosecution prosecution witnesses in the two Kenya cases. “It is a serious crime by those who aim to prevent not just the ICC, but Kenyans, from knowing the truth. Those who attempt to pervert justice by instilling fear or paying off witnesses to stay quiet, you are criminals. We will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute you. This is not an empty warning,” said Bensouda.
The four accused are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP, William Ruto, former Head of the Civil Service, Francis Karimi Muthaura, and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. Bensouda criticised her predecessor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for refusing to meet internally displaced persons (IDPs), who are victims from the 2008 post-election chaos.
In a historic meeting, Bensouda was calm as angry IDPs in the camp at Pipeline in Nakuru accused her office of ignoring their plight.
“I apologise on behalf of ICC for the failure of my predecessor to visit you, the displaced persons,” she told the 300 IDPs at the camp. Bensouda was unhappy when she discovered that Nakuru County Commissioner Amos Gatheca had prepared a list of speakers to address her. At one point, Bensouda asked Gatheca, who was the master of ceremonies, to pick speakers from the IDPs at random and not those on the list.
The Prosecutor also conducted an impromptu lesson on the role of the court to the IDPs after the listed speakers accused her office of ignoring them. They said when her predecessor visited Kenya, he went on a game drive in Nairobi National Park instead of visiting them.
Bensouda flew to the camp and walked straight to the tattered tents where the post-election violence victims have been spending cold nights and battling flooding.
Bensouda did her best to correct what she said is a wrong impression that the Office of the Prosecutor did not collect evidence from victims of the 2008 violence.
On two occasions the ICC Prosecutor was forced to interrupt the programme after a Mr Paul Thiong’o who was listed on Gatheca’s roll of speakers as the IDP camp’s ‘chairman’ attacked her office.
But it was not all condemnation. One of the IDPs Beth Wanjiru lauded Bensouda for visiting the camp. “Since I was displaced from my home and started living in the camp I have never seen anyone from the Prosecutor’s office. I just heard Moreno (Ocampo) was around, but he never visited us,” she said.
Wanjiru said she was ready to identify her attackers who should then be asked to name their financiers. “I cannot identify the major perpetrators, but I know the people who attacked us. They should be asked to name their financiers,” she added.
Bensouda said evidence collected from the victims is crucial in the cases against the suspects and is passed on to the ICC investigating team. “I may not always be here, but my team is here. Information received would be passed to the team,” she added.
Thiong’o claimed those with the greatest responsibility for the violence was the “two horses that were competing for power”, (referring to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga).
It was at this juncture that Bensouda intervened.
“My mission (to the camp) is to explain the ICC intervention and what has been done and the next steps,” she said. Bensouda emphasised that the ICC is not a political process, adding that the Court’s role is bring to justice those who bear the greatest responsibility for the violence.
Apparently concerned by the politicisation of the Kenya cases at The Hague by some of the accused persons, she told the victims that a country’s politics or the communities of the accused persons could not influence the investigations.
Bensouda assured the IDPs that although the ICC might not have been visible in the camps, it was “collecting information” and its witnesses are credible and protected.
She later reiterated this point during her Press conference at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi.
“We are impartial. We are objective. We are independent. We are not biased against anyone. We are not biased against Kalenjin or Kikuyu, not against Kisii or Luo, Maasai or any Kenyan tribe,” Bensouda told journalists. “This is not a case about political responsibility. It is not a case of targeting certain communities. It is about individual criminal responsibility,” said Bensouda at the news conference.
“ICC’s sole purpose is to end impunity for the worst crimes in the world: Genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and to prevent future crimes,” noted the Prosecutor. “Simply put, this means no-one, irrespective of status, can commit crimes on a massive scale and get away with it. It is the law,” she added.
Asked about the regional shuttle diplomacy of one of the suspects, Uhuru Kenyatta is engaged in, Bensouda said he is free to engage whomever he wants, but it would have no influence on the case at The Hague.
Source: Standard Media