BY MIGUNA MIGUNA
I was at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport check-in counter for the Kenya Airways flight 0116 to The Hague at exactly 6:30 am on April 5th, 2011. This was in fulfilment of my solemn undertaking to readers two weeks ago that I would escort the Ocampo Six on their sojourn with pomp and ceremony.
Before boarding the 8 am flight, I looked around but couldn’t see any of my “privileged” companions. However, upon entering the business class cabin, I saw Gen (Rtd) Hussein Ali hunched over some papers. I tried to make eye contact, but the General seemed preoccupied with more important matters. So, I made my way to my right front window seat. The General sat one row behind me to the extreme left. For thirty minutes after taking my seat, I kept glancing over to see if the General would spare me a fleeting greeting.
When I failed to get his attention, I gathered enough courage and went over his seat, extended my warm hand and said: “Good morning Commissioner! I’m here.” “I am also here;” he responded icily. “Well, I just wanted to say ‘good luck’,” I said as he smiled drily. I lingered on briefly, thinking that he would say something but he retreated back to what looked like some legal briefs. I made my way back to my seat. The General kept his long and forlorn face glued onto his papers. I couldn’t blame him for worrying over what might await him at The Hague. After all, he was facing the worst crimes anybody could be charged with.
After we had been in the air for three hours, the General moved to the first seat in the front left row. The business cabin was only one third full. He continued either reading or looking outside through the window. At some point, he dozed off and I suddenly noticed the entry into the cabin of a young well built Somali looking man. He walked past me and lingered on before taking a seat between the General and me. But he only sat for less than five minutes before returning to his seat at the back. Only then did I realise that the General was travelling with bodyguards.
The plane took off exactly at 8:15 a.m. And for the next eight hours between Nairobi and Amsterdam, the General either pored or peered on his papers or into the clouds through the window. On arrival at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, I realised that the General didn’t intend to alight with the other passengers. He sat there glumly as others rushed to leave.
Immediately outside the plane, there were more than 15 heavily armed police and immigration officers. They were scrutinising all passengers’ travel documents. I found that unnerving and quite unusual. I have previously travelled through the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for years on end but this was the only time I have seen such demonstration of “coercive force”.
We went through the screening uneventfully walked to the immigration checkout counter. After another thorough screening, most disembarking passengers went to the baggage retrieval carousels. We picked our luggage and started leaving. There, I met two Kenyan lawyers who are working – behind the scenes on the ICC cases – for Uhuru Kenyatta. They were met outside by a white lady who immediately checked their “credentials” and whisked them away.
Outside, I met three Citizen TV journalists staking out General Hussein Ali. They had been at the airport for at least two hours. I stayed around with them for another hour but there were no signs of the General. It appeared that the General had been picked up from the plane by Kenya’s diplomatic representatives at The Hague. That’s the only way he could have avoided going through normal immigration and customs procedures. Needless to say, I got a ride from the Citizen TV reporters to The Hague. They were disappointed not to have had the usual clip of the General.
My first night at The Hague was quiet but chilly. The next day, I was woken up by calls from Kenya, which I couldn’t answer. The roaming charges are outrageous. I texted informing them to either text me or use the hotel landline number. At 9 am on Wednesday April 6th, I went for breakfast and met a bunch of Kenyan journalists covering the historic cases. Most had barely slept. They seemed to have spent most of last night zooming between Amsterdam and The Hague. Apparently, William Ruto, Henry Kosgey, Joshua Sang, the AG Amos Wako, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and many other Ocampo Six coteries arrived in different flights last night and early that morning.
Unlike the music, wailings and ululations at the JKIA; the scenes at Amsterdam were eerily silent. Those who had been running around the country issuing threats and chest-thumping are now shells of themselves. They are drawn, cold and shaken.
I understand Ruto arrived crest-fallen. Fear was written all over his face. The “hero” has suddenly realised the enormity of that cases facing him and how inconsequential his bravado is to the ICC process. Their lawyers that arrived earlier have been running around breathlessly here, not knowing what to do, particularly after the unanimous ruling by the Pre-Trial Chamber II. That ruling was merely a warning that the judges shall not entertain churlish comedy at the highest and most respected criminal court in the world. If Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Francis Muthaura thought that they could intimidate the Court – that ruling – denied them a chance to turn their first appearances into political theatre. Now they should know that their cases shall go on – their presidential ambitions notwithstanding.
Credible accounts confirm that more than 120 people – including Moses Kuria and numerous from State House, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State Law Office – have traveled to The Hague as members of the “state delegation”, their travel and related costs and expenses irregularly paid for by the public and facilitated by the Kenyan High Commission at The Hague.
It is unfortunate that public officers like the AG and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions who are supposed to prosecute criminals on behalf of the people are now acting at the behest of those accused of committing crimes against humanity. Who will protect the victims of those crimes? Who will prosecute the Ocampo Six now that the AG and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions have become the Ocampo Six’s Advocates?
Although I am a senior government employee; I wasn’t met by our embassy officials nor facilitated by them in any way whatsoever. Whereas Joshua arap Sang, Moses Kuria, and other PNU/KKK busy bodies were being chaperoned around in limousines at the public expense; I have been travelling by train and tram. The Ocampo Six and their “official” escorts have been booked in expensive five star hotels. I’m not complaining.
However, it needs pointing out that what we are seeing is but a glimpse of the looting spree and mismanagement of public resources by the PNU/KKK faction within government. What exactly are they trying to prove to the ICC by bringing 120 rowdy youth to the Court? Is that a demonstration of how powerful and influential the Ocampo Three (Uhuru, Muthaura and Ruto) are?
The public must demand full accounting of the money being spent on six people accused of the worst crimes in the world whereas nothing significant has been spent on the real victims of the PEV.
Miguna is the PM’s advisor on Coalition Affairs. The views expressed here are his own.