Jubilee in crisis talks over President Uhuru Kenyatta ICC case
Confusion reigned Sunday on whether President Uhuru Kenyatta will be required to attend court at The Hague in person, or if he can do so by video link.
A section of politicians led by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale have been calling on the President not to travel to The Hague, saying to do so would expose him and the country to ridicule.
Mr Duale said there were ongoing consultations in Jubilee on when a parliamentary group meeting would be held to discuss the matter.
And Deputy President William Ruto Sunday asked Kenyans not to worry about crime against humanity charges facing him and Mr Kenyatta at the ICC.
“Some people have set traps for us but we are confident we will overcome them,” he said.
Meanwhile, local officials of the International Criminal Court said the judges did not specify how Mr Kenyatta would attend the status conference on October 8. They also clarified that the President had not been summoned but was required to be in court by a ruling of the judges.
FIRST SITTING PRESIDENT
Mr Kenyatta attended court at The Hague before he was elected President. He will be the first sitting Head of State to appear before ICC.
The court’s Field Outreach Coordinator, Ms Maria Kamara, said: “The ruling… did not give the specificity on the mode of appearance. It said the accused should be present in the court during the status conference. I cannot interpret outside of the judges’ ruling.
“I must clarify that there were no summons. It is a ruling that required the accused to be present.”
A video link to the court has been used to connect two witnesses in Mr Ruto’s and Mr Joshua arap Sang’s case. The witnesses have been giving their testimonies from Nairobi.
In last Friday’s ruling, judges Kuniko Ozaki (presiding), Robert Fremr and Geoffrey Henderson said the case was in a critical stage and required the presence of the accused.
“Separately, to facilitate the fair and expeditious conduct of proceedings, the Chamber convenes a second status conference on Wednesday, 8 October, 2014, to discuss the issues raised in the Notice and the responses thereto. Given the critical juncture of the proceedings and the matters to be considered, the accused is required to be present at the status conference,” the three judges said.
Mr Kenyatta’s appearance will come a day after another one “to discuss the status of cooperation between the prosecution and the Kenyan Government”. The government will be represented by Attorney-General Githu Muigai.
VIDEO LINK OPTION
Sunday, the AG declined to comment on the matter.
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki said the option of a video link was available.
“The option of the video link can be explored. Whether to attend or not is a decision to be made by the President in consultation with his lawyers. He should also consult his employers, the people of Kenya,” said Prof Kindiki, who was part of Mr Ruto’s defence during the confirmation hearings.
He asked the judges to terminate the case, saying the prosecutor had failed to present evidence to support the case against Mr Kenyatta.
“When the cases started, Kenyans were told there was monumental evidence to support the cases. But what has happened is unfortunate. There is no shred of evidence against the President and the prosecutor is treating us to a circus never seen in law,” he said.
Legal and international affairs experts said the Dutch Government will extend protection and courtesies to the President should he travel to The Hague.
“I don’t think there will be a dilemma at all to the Dutch Government to host him. They should receive him as a Head of State. They should accord him all the necessary welcome,” said Prof David Kikaya, an international relations scholar at USIU-Africa.
Kenya’s former ambassador to the UN, Mr Ochieng Adala, agreed that Dutch authorities would have no dilemma.
“The ICC has nothing to do with the Dutch Government except that it hosts the court. The ICC and the Dutch Government are different entities operating on a parallel structure,” he said.
Reports by Jeremiah Kiplang’at, John Ngirachu, Aggrey Mutambo, George Munene, Ouma Wanzala and KNA