UHURU MUST GO TO HAGUE – HIS LAWYER
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta will defy his closest associates and the African Union and instead honour his date with the ICC either in person or via video link.
The ICC has ordered the President to appear in court on October 8 during a status conference. His lawyers were yesterday working on the two possibilities as a meeting by Jubilee MPs to discuss the summons hung in the balance.
One of Uhuru’s lawyers familiar with his defence strategy confirmed the matter is being discussed, but pointed out that defying the ICC is not on the cards.
“We are considering two options. Either physical presence or video link. But defying the judges can’t be an option,” the source said.
In an interview with the Star, an ICC official indicated that Uhuru could be allowed to appear via video link, but emphasised that no such request has been made.
Separately, ICC Associate Legal Officer (outreach) Daphne Vlachogiannis maintained that Uhuru is under obligation to attend all hearings for which the Chamber requires his presence in accordance with his summons conditions.
“Pursuant to the terms of his summons to appear, Mr Kenyatta must attend all hearings at the Court for which the Chamber requires his presence,” Vlachogiannis said in audiovisual material explaining the Kenyan case.
Part of the summons conditions the ICC judges gave to Uhuru, former Civil Service chief Francis Muthaura and former police boss Hussein Ali was that they would be slapped with warrants of arrest if they skipped hearings.
“Should Muthaura, Kenyatta and Ali fail to appear on the date specified in the summonses or to comply with the conditions to be imposed, the Chamber reserves the right to replace the summonses to appear with warrants of arrest under Article 58 of the Statute and Rule 119(4) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence,” the Pre-trial judges ruled.
The ICC official reiterated the judges’ position that Uhuru’s presence is key because of the critical juncture of the proceedings.
“While true that Mr Kenyatta has not been required to be present at recent status conferences, given the critical juncture of the proceedings and the matter to be considered, the Chamber deems his presence necessary,” Vlachogiannis said.
“If the accused wishes to attend via video link, he could make a request to the Chamber, which the Chamber would then rule on. At the moment no such request has been made by the accused,” ICC Chief of Public Information Unit Sonia Robia said.
She said that if the President makes the request and it is granted by the judges, the ICC Registry would organise all the logistics.
“The video-link technology was used in this case on 14th February 2013, when Mr Kenyatta appeared before the Chamber and is being used to hear witnesses in other ICC trials. However, we cannot, at this stage, speculate on what the Chamber or parties may request or decide,” she stated.
Kieni MP Kanini Kega, a close ally of Uhuru’s, contradicted his ruling coalition bigwigs, insisting that there is no planned crisis meeting to take a position on wether Uhuru should fly to The Netherlands.
“There’s nothing like a Jubilee meeting planned. If there’s any meeting it’s that of bipartisan MPs, because Uhuru Kenyatta is the President of the Republic of Kenya,” said the lawmaker.
“My position is that the President should honour the summons to the ICC. In any case, he has no case to answer. There are many of us from across the political spectrum who are preparing to escort him. I’m already preparing to apply for a visa,” he added.
Kega said that Deputy President William Ruto would have been called a fugitive if he had defied the Court, adding that his compliance has shown “the world what a shambolic, still-born case the prosecution had put together”.
On Sunday, leaders of the Majority in the National Assembly and Senate, Aden Duale and Kithure Kindiki, told the Star that the coalition will discuss the issue and advise Uhuru whether to go or ignore the summons.
?”This is a serious issue. You cannot just summon a President of a country like Kenya. We have therefore asked all members to attend this meeting, which will decide the way forward,” said Duale.