Bensouda studying Ruto, Sang ICC verdict to decide next move

April 7, 2016 10:32 am
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“We are currently in the process of carefully assessing the Trial Chamber’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps,” she stated/FILE
“We are currently in the process of carefully assessing the Trial Chamber’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps,” she stated/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecution is reviewing the decision of the Trial Chamber which found that Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang have no case to answer.

According to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the judges have not blocked the prosecution from pursuing Ruto and Sang “with the same charges in future, or in a different form in light of new evidence.”

Overview
  • Bensouda capitalised on the judges’ finding that they could not reach a guilty or innocent verdict due to allegations of witness interference and "political meddling."
  • “We regret that due to deliberate and concerted efforts to derail this case through witness interference, the judges have been prevented from determining the guilt or innocence of the accused on the full merits of the case,” she stated.
  • Witness interference, she said, severely deprived her office of crucial pieces of evidence that could have led to a possible conviction if it had been sustained.

“We are currently in the process of carefully assessing the Trial Chamber’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps,” she stated.

Bensouda capitalised on the judges’ finding that they could not reach a guilty or innocent verdict due to allegations of witness interference and “political meddling.”

“We regret that due to deliberate and concerted efforts to derail this case through witness interference, the judges have been prevented from determining the guilt or innocence of the accused on the full merits of the case,” she stated.

Witness interference, she said, severely deprived her office of crucial pieces of evidence that could have led to a possible conviction if it had been sustained.

She stated that after securing key witnesses, 17 of them withdrew even after having agreed to testify for the prosecution, a blame she directs to witness intimidation.

“Prosecution witnesses in this case were subjected to intimidation, social isolation and threats to prevent them from testifying. In the end, the Trial Chamber was in effect prevented from having the opportunity to assess the true merits of the prosecution case,” she explained.

Describing the Kenyan cases as a difficult journey her office has been through, Bensouda said she suffered due to criticism from all corners to an extent of threats to expose identities of protected witnesses.

“At public prayer rallies, local politicians and community leaders branded prosecution witnesses as liars who had all given false evidence. On social media, anonymous bloggers engaged in a steady stream of speculation about the identity of protected witnesses.”

The politics in the country, she explained, made it worse for her office which she said was grappling with salvaging evidence and witnesses with the hopes of securing a conviction.

“This project of intimidation preceded the start of our investigation in Kenya, intensified in the weeks leading up to the beginning of the trial, and continued throughout the life of the case.”

Bensouda stated that she was convinced that without interference with her witnesses and politicising the case, she would have proved that the accused persons were criminally responsible for the 2008 Post Election Violence in Kenya.

She again asked Kenyan authorities to handover to the ICC Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Philip Bett who are wanted over alleged witness interference.

“I call on the authorities to fulfil their obligations and surrender these three suspects to the court without further delay,” she stated.

Bensouda further accused the Government of Kenya of failing to honour its cooperation obligation with the court especially in protection of witnesses and securing of evidence.

She explained that the government did not cooperate fully on the occasions that her office requested for its support.

“However, despite repeated assurances of cooperation with the court, the Government of Kenya provided only selective assistance to the prosecution. The net result is that my office did not have full access to documents and records that may have had probative value or been able to further shed light on the truth.”

The defence teams of Ruto and Sang on Wednesday accused the prosecution of wrongfully charging them and procuring ‘lying’ witnesses to push on a case that ‘should not have been there in the first place.’

READ: Khan wants Ocampo held accountable for ‘bungling’ Kenyan cases

Bensouda further regretted that without a conviction, victims of the violence would not get the justice they deserve.

“What is also troubling is that the onslaught against this case has – for now – denied the victims of the 2007-2008 election violence in Kenya the justice they so rightly deserve.”

Victims Legal Representative Wilfred Nderitu on Tuesday urged the government to compensate and resettle victims by disbursing the Sh10 billion announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta as restoration fund for victims.

READ: Victims ICC lawyer urges Kenya to initiate Sh10bn restoration fund

The judges of Trial Chamber V (a) in a majority ruling declared the proceedings a mistrial due to a troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling.

They also vacated charges and discharged Ruto and Sang from the ICC process but ‘without prejudice to their presumption of innocence or the prosecutor’s right re-prosecute the case at a later time’.

They further allowed victims to submit their views to the court following the decision.

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