President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) may now start in May next year if the Office of the Prosecutor acquires vital evidential materials to support the case.
In an application filed by the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Thursday the Trial Chamber V (b) judges have been requested to adjourn the Kenyatta case by at least three months from the initial February 5.
The Prosecutor has also requested for the convention of a status conference in the week beginning January 27 next year to update the chamber on the progress of investigations being conducted to strengthen the Kenyatta case.
The request for adjournment has been caused by the withdrawal of two key witnesses against President Kenyatta from the prosecutor’s witness list.
Details in the application indicated that witness identified as P-0012 recanted his previous statements after several contradictions forcing the prosecutor’s office to have him withdrawn while witness P-0011 has requested to be withdrawn.
The court had planned to treat P-0012 as an eyewitness to corroborate claims on an alleged State House meeting where retaliatory attacks against perceived ODM supporters is said to have been planned.
The witness had previously presented a statement claiming he was personally present at State House something the prosecutor wanted to use to link President Kenyatta to the Naivasha and Nakuru attacks.
“In P-0012’s first three interviews he stated he attended a meeting at Nairobi State House on or about 30 December 2007 in which he described the accused participating in the organisation and funding of violence,” Ms Bensouda said in her application.
The Prosecutor documented how the witness contradicted himself in various interviews raising questions on his credibility.
Ms Bensouda further revealed: “P-0012’s fifth and final interview was on December 4, 2013. During that interview P-0012 admitted that he was at the alleged December 30, 2007 meeting and had previously lied to the prosecution regarding the event.”
The second witness P-0011 has been zigzagging about his position to stand as witness against the President having requested to be withdrawn and later saying he may reconsider his decision to withdraw.
Said the Prosecutor: “Staff from the prosecution and victims and witnesses unit spoke with P-0011 on December 2013. He volunteered that he may be willing to reconsider his position but did not make a firm commitment.”
(Read: Now Bensouda wants Uhuru case adjourned)
“Having considered the impact of P-0012 recantation of the case as a whole. The prosecution does not consider that it is currently in a position to present a case that satisfies evidentiary standards applicable at trial- beyond reasonable doubt,” she added.
Her office she said is in the process of conducting further investigations to try to tighten the case so as to ensure victims of the horrendous events of the post-election violence get justice.
The prosecutor however said that trial judges have been confidentially informed of the steps taken to strengthen the Kenyatta case in which about 30 witness had been lined up to testify.
Mrs Bensouda is also anticipating that another application by her office against the Government of Kenya’s non- compliance would if ruled in her favour force Kenya to release vital information crucial to the Kenyatta case.
Said the prosecutor: “It is also appropriate for GoK’s failure to fully comply with its cooperation obligations to be adjudicated so that the Assembly of States parties can determine whether and what action to take.”
Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe Osuji are expected to make a decision on the prosecutor’s two applications later.
But the case against Deputy President William Ruto and former radio presenter Joshua Sang would continue uninterrupted with trials expected to proceed on January 13.-nation.co.ke