, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Thursday the he planned to travel to Nairobi in May to begin his investigations into the 2008 post-election violence.
Mr Ocampo said via video conference from The Hague that was broadcast live in Kenya that he expected to question 20 suspects but would eventually narrow down to about six individuals whom he intends to prosecute.
“We envision at least two cases against one to three persons in each case. We will focus on those who, according to the evidence that will be collected in the course of our independent investigation, are most responsible,” he said.
The Prosecutor said he would not disclose the names of the people under investigation until his office was satisfied there was sufficient evidence against them.
“Our duty is to investigate both incriminating and exonerating information. Persons under suspicion can request to be interviewed by my office in order to provide the explanation that they consider appropriate. We will respect the rights of suspects,” Mr Ocampo said.
The court issues arrest warrants after careful examination of the application and evidence submitted by the Court’s Prosecutor. The arrest warrants are issued only if there are reasonable grounds that the named person has committed a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.
Arrest warrants can either be issued under seal, publicly, or summons to those willing to appear. The ICC will however relies on the cooperation of the concerned government and member States to make the arrests.
Mr Ocampo said he would dedicate his May visit to tour some crime scenes and talk to victims of the violence.
He promised to complete his work by end of this year. He will then present his cases before the judges who will then decide if the cases merit further action.
He said he would also narrow down the number of potential witnesses to limit the risk of exposure. “We normally call few witnesses to trial, around 30 in the (Thomas) Lubanga case. We will try to present a reduced number of witnesses in the Kenyan cases.”
Although he guaranteed protection for his witnesses, he urged the government to also be responsible in offering local protection to those affected.
He emphasised the importance of the government offering its full cooperation and support in his probe to safeguard justice.
The Prosecutor appealed to the rest of Kenyans, including religious groups, organisations and leaders to cooperate and work with the ICC to understand its intention as well as appreciate the importance of preventing future violence.
Mr Ocampo hoped that the entire process will be completed before Kenya’s next general election in 2012.