Wednesday, April 24, 2024

What awaits Uhuru in Bensouda face-off

Uhuru+Hague+ICC+0710President Uhuru Kenyatta will at 11am on Wednesday appear before judges of the International Criminal Court in one of the most crucial encounters of his life that could culminate in the adjournment or termination of his case.

He will be received outside the court by hundreds of Kenyans, many of them who have travelled in solidarity with him and others who live in The Hague and beyond.

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Among those to meet him are Members of Parliament and Cabinet Secretaries who travelled to the Netherlands with him on Tuesday.

However, he will enter the courtroom’s revolving doors alone.

Some of the MPs and government officials who have registered with the court will be given seats in the public gallery. The rest will be locked out.

Lawyers will enter the chamber through a different entrance and, perhaps for the first time in 18 months, Mr Kenyatta will be shorn of aides and security staff.

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He will be alone with his lawyers as he faces Ms Fatou Bensouda and the other prosecution staff and the three judges who hold his fate in their hands.

The status conference, which started on Tuesday, will discuss weighty matters touching on the person of Mr Kenyatta and the case which prompted the ICC Trial Chamber judges to require his presence in court.


The conference has two key issues on the agenda, according to ICC’s associate legal officer Daphne Vlachojannis.

One is the request by Mr Kenyatta that his case be thrown out for lack of evidence.

Ms Bensouda has argued that the case should not be terminated because Kenya has failed to provide crucial information. She blames President Kenyatta for the failure.

The second issue is Ms Bensouda’s request to the Trial Chamber to postpone the case until Kenya provides information touching on President Kenyatta’s personal affairs.

“The status conference is to discuss these requests by the defence and the prosecution on the one hand and on the other the cooperation of the Government of Kenya. In due course, the judges will rule on these issues independently and impartially,” Ms Vlachojannis said.

Ms Bensouda has submitted that as President, Mr Kenyatta should be held responsible for the failure of the government to comply with the ICC requests.

But lawyers Steven Kay and Gillian Higgins, for Mr Kenyatta, have accused the ICC prosecutor of seeking to adjourn the case in which she has publicly stated that she has insufficient evidence to prosecute their client.

The ruling could, therefore, either adjourn the case or drop the charges against President Kenyatta.


Should Kenya be found to have failed to cooperate with the ICC, it will be taken to the Assembly of State Parties for a decision.

Addressing Parliament on Monday, President Kenyatta denied blocking information requested from the government by the prosecutor through an order issued by the ICC Trial Chamber judges.

He said he and his lawyers were excluded from the prosecutor’s dealing with the government.

“In compliance with this order, I have not interfered with the protocol set by the prosecutor in her dealings with the government. This means that in this new line being followed, I was kept in suspense while the prosecutor engaged with the relevant organs of government,” he said in his special address to Parliament.

While it is not clear whether Mr Kenyatta will request to address the status conference as the accused, he has stated that he permitted the various government organs to hand over his personal information which was being requested by the prosecutor.

This included his bank accounts, telephone data, his financial records including tax returns to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), his wealth and the vehicles he owns.

“Whenever the organs of the Government of Kenya required my consent to these investigations, I gave that consent. I have cooperated with the prosecutor to assist in establishing the truth at all times,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta transferred power to Deputy President William Ruto on Monday to attend the status conference as a civilian.

He argued that he will not take the sovereignty of the people of Kenya before the international court.

He even flew to The Hague on a commercial flight, having arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) without the usual trappings of power and having checked in like other passengers.

During Tuesday’s session, in which Kenya was represented by Attorney-General Githu Muigai, the Trial Chamber judges sought clarity on the progress of the order they issued on July 29, 2014, requiring the government to submit the President’s personal information.

Wednesday’s proceedings will be televised albeit with a 30-minute delay.

Uhuru Kenyatta meets Kenyans after his arrival at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on October 7, 2014. PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN

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