, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday warned it would take action against any persons threatening or claiming to expose protected witnesses of the court.
According to communication from the court to Capital News, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) said any claims of witness tampering would be fully probed.
“We will investigate who is trying to tamper with potential witnesses and we will request appropriate measures, including arrests,” the Office of the Prosecutor warned.
The comments follow concerns raised to the court by Capital News that a witness who identified himself as Witness Four in the case against Uhuru Kenyatta had withdrawn his evidence.
A video circulated on YouTube showed the apparent witness James Maina Kabutu, saying that he had withdrawn his evidence, since any testimony he gave was incorrect. The video was made way back in 2009 in New York.
On Friday, the OTP said it would be drawn into public debates but instead would honour its key concern of protecting its witnesses.
“It is our duty of protection not to make public or comment on the identity of OTP witnesses. Our reaction to these events will be judicial. Do not expect us to debate these issues in the media,” the OTP affirmed.
The communication from the court followed claims by Ugandan lawyer David Matsanga who made the video public.
“Witness number four has been looking for Matsanga on Google saying, sorry, they have withdrawn, what they were saying were lies,” Matsanga alleged.
Matsanga who took on ICC Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo further said he had been closely watching him since he started his first case in Africa.
“I have been following Ocampo. I am an African man who hates Ocampo and therefore I have now caught him in this case. I am accusing Ocampo of only one thing… perjury,” Matsanga said.
He became agitated when journalists sought to know why the witnesses approached him in particular.
He argued that the lawyers of the witness had watched him on Kenyan television stations and decided to look for him to tell him that the witness had withdrawn his evidence.
But his response, still did not resolve the doubts. “I investigate, I can find out if you ate yesterday or not. Boss I know a lot, so don’t take me like just these small… I have rubbed shoulders with very many. I have contacts, so you cannot expect me at 56 not to know.”
Capital News could not independently ascertain if the witness who appeared in video was indeed an ICC witness.
Matsanga distributed copies of documents between him, the witness’s lawyers and the court. He also gave out the video in which the alleged witness was being interviewed.
In the video, the witness is seen reading his answers and appears to seek directions from a third party.