Lawyers want Ocampo restrained

April 18, 2011 12:00 am

, THE HAGUE, Apr 18 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has once again come under heavy criticism from lawyers representing three senior civil servants who are facing charges before the court.

Led by Karim Khan for Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, the advocates protested to the court over the conduct of Mr Ocampo for speaking to the press on the case and suggesting that their clients might be intimidating witnesses because they hold public positions.

"For the prosecutor in his public protestation that are before the Bench and today again to refer to the public duties that my client holds …that it somehow places witnesses in jeopardy is to malign and to put a cloud of innuendo over these proceedings," Mr Khan protested.

The lawyers who appeared for a status conference at The Hague on Monday sought the court\’s intervention saying his client\’s case would be prejudiced since Mr Muthaura has complied with all conditions that had been set by the court.

"Gossip and hearsay has a potential to severely prejudice defence investigations. And I would ask the prosecutor to be rather disciplined," he added. "My client has complied with all conditions and for him to be maligned is intolerable."

Uhuru Kenyatta\’s lawyer Steven Kay also shared the same concern over the prosecutor\’s contention that the suspects hold high public office.

They also cautioned the court and the prosecutor from relying on Kenyan media while making decisions or submission before the court.

"Stories are made in the Kenyan media that are not based on facts and we had to deal with one such story last week. The court should be mindful of media manipulation," Mr Kay said.

Evans Monari, representing former police commission Maj Gen (rtd) Mohammed Hussein Ali raised concern that the prosecutor appeared to be changing positions by saying that his witnesses would be interfered with yet he had in the past said that his witnesses were out of the country.

"He (the prosecutor) has said previously that he is receiving cooperation from the Kenyan government and he should not turn around at this time," said Mr Monari.

The Prosecution indicated to the court that it wished to call 10 witnesses and provide full witness statements in the case against the three.

"We will rely on 3,100 pages of documents," the prosecutor\’s representatives said.

Mr Muthaura\’s lawyer said they would challenge the prosecution\’s evidence when hearings for the confirmation of charges commence in September.

"It is a travesty of the highest order that he has been summoned in the first place and so it is our intention to contest the charges and present evidence," Mr Khan said.

Mr Ocampo also faced the wrath of the defence lawyers after he indicated that the full disclosure should only be done after the admissibility case by Government of Kenya is done away with.

"The disclosure of document should only be after protective measures are in place," the prosecutor\’s representative told the court. The court is now expected to give a calendar for disclosure of the documents and other details.

The court was also told that there are 542 documents numbering 9,397 pages that will be submitted to the Chamber for redaction (partial concealment). These documents according to the Prosecutor are potentially of exonerating or incriminating nature and which were obtained under strict confidentiality.

She however said that the prosecutor would place other documents for inspection that could help the suspects in their defence.

"Yes we can give an estimate 292 documents forming 9,929 pages of potentially exonerating documents," the Prosecutor said.

Such documents are normally partially withheld by the prosecution – if the court grants them – on the basis that full disclosure would have an impact on the prosecution\’s case.

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