Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ocampo coming to Kenya in May

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Thursday announced that he will travel to Kenyan in May to start investigations into the 2008 post-election violence.

Addressing an international Press conference at The Hague, the ICC prosecutor said that he will meet the victims of the violence and visit some of the crime scenes. "I will travel to Kenya in May and will visit the victims and some of the crime scenes. I will talk to the victims in order to get from them the accounts of what happened," said Mr Moreno-Ocampo. He also gave an assurance that his office will seek to independently offer protection to the victims and potential witnesses. He, however, added that it is the "duty of the Kenyan authorities" to ensure that all victims are protected.

Outlining his next moves, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that he expects to identify at least two cases to put before the ICC. He added that in each of the cases he will identify "one to three suspects" who he will ask the ICC to issue warrants of arrest or summons against. "The judges will decide whether these people should be arrested or summoned. We may issue warrants of arrest, or sealed warrants of arrest or the judges may issue summons for the suspects to voluntarily appear before the court," said Mr Moreno-Ocampo. The ICC prosecutor also said that the list of 20 people he had presented to the judges was "only indicative and not binding.

"We have to collect evidence and identify those to go on trial. The persons under suspicion can also request to be interviewed as we respect the rights of the suspects," he added. Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that he will try and identify a small number of witnesses so as "to reduce the risk of exposure".

The ICC prosecutor spoke only a day after ICC judges gave him the greenlight to investigate key plotters, among them Cabinet Ministers, prominent politicians and businessmen. The landmark decision was reached by a majority vote of two of the three-judge bench. "The Pre-Trial Chamber granted the prosecutor’s request to start investigation on crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Republic of Kenya," said the Public Affairs Unit of the ICC in a statement on Wednesday. Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, who was presiding, and judge Cuno Tarfusser were convinced that crimes against humanity were committed during the chaos.

But their colleague, Peter-Hans Kaul dissented, arguing that the violence did not meet the standards of The Hague.

The long-awaited ruling is likely to send into panic politicians, businesspeople and top civil servants suspected of planning, financing, executing or sanctioning the chaos that broke out after the 2007 presidential elections results. Some 1,133 people were killed and more than 650,000 displaced from their homes. Mr Moreno-Ocampo handed over 20 names of the suspects and testimonies by witnesses in his application of November 26, last year. He also handed in supporting evidence that was requested early last month.

Since the court’s ruling is based on a majority, Mr Moreno-Ocampo is now free to investigate events between June 1, 2005 and November 26, 2009. That includes events in the referendum campaign of 2005, the build-up to the 2007 elections and the failure to prosecute the perpetrators of the violence that broke out in early 2008.

The ICC ruling relied mainly on reports by the Waki Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, reports by non-governmental organisations, international human rights groups and dossiers submitted by PNU and ODM. The evidence was 1,500 pages long with 39 annexes.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo sought the court’s permission after the Grand Coalition Government failed to hand over the Kenyan case to The Hague. A deeply divided Parliament had frustrated three attempts by the government to pass laws which would have set up a local tribunal to try the suspects in Kenya.

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