, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Defence lawyers for six Kenyans awaiting a verdict on their cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC) are not required to travel to The Hague after all.
An email from the office of the presiding judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II Ekaterina Trendafilova to the defence teams, says their physical presence for the ruling is not necessary, since it will be posted on the ICC website.
Writing on behalf of the judge, Bitti Gilbert maintained the decision will be announced on or before January 23, which marks the end of 60-day period allowed under the Rome Statute, after defence teams made their written submissions following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearings in September.
“On behalf of the presiding judge, I inform you that the decisions regarding the Kenyan cases will be issued at the latest on Monday 23rd January 2012 in writing and thus there is no need for any defence team to come to The Hague,” Gilbert indicated in an email the defence lawyers.
One of the lawyers had written to the ICC asking for the date when the decision will be issued so that their teams could get ready to travel or check for written records on the ICC website.
“Apparently there is rampant speculation in the Kenyan media that the decision will be issued on the 23rd January. If possible, the defence would be very grateful to know whether this is indeed the scheduled date so that they can ensure that they have constant access to their email throughout the day so that they can advise their clients of the result before the media does,” an email to the court reads.
It adds: “Alternatively, if the Chamber intends to convene a hearing, the defence would appreciate it if they can be informed in advance so that they can make suitable travel arrangements, and purchase their tickets in advance,” an email sent to the office of the presiding judge read.”
In Kenya, expectations have been high after the media got information from lawyers in the case that the judges will make the announcement on January 23.
ICC Outreach Programme Officer Maria Kamara however insists that The Hague based court was yet to issue a media advisory on the ruling date.
“The advisory will inform how business will be conducted on the day the announcement will be made taking into account that there are two cases. The advisory will give a summary of the date of the ruling, if the lawyers have to travel. The ruling will take place within the 60 days,” she told Capital News.
“The suspects are not required to be present; they will be notified of the decision by their lawyers.”
In ruling, the presiding judge Trendafilova and her colleagues Hans Peter-Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser will determine whether the prosecutor presented sufficient evidence for the charges to be confirmed.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura, Postmaster General Hussein Ali, MPs William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and radio personality Joshua arap Sang are waiting to know if their cases will be dismissed or go to full trial.
Following concerns over possibility that the decision would spur emotions in the country, members of the civil society requested the ICC to issue the decision for all the suspects concurrently.
Most Kenyans are eagerly waiting for the decision amid heightened political activity, with two of the suspects having announced their aspirations for the presidency.
Kenyatta has recently re-energised the Kenya African National Union while Ruto launched the United Republican party at the weekend.
Uncertainty however persists over the exact date of the next general elections, after the High Court ruled that the polls can be held this year if the coalition government is dissolved or early next year – 60 days after Parliament ends its full term on January 15, 2013.