, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 20 – International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is set to open Kenya’s case at The Hague next Friday when he formally seeks the consent of the Pre-Trial Chamber’s to open investigations.
Mr Ocampo has written to Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo informing President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga of his intentions.
“What it simply means is that the process has started and Mr Ocampo has now confirmed to me that he will be filing this application one week from now (November 27). Kenya is now getting the reality of the fact that an investigation on international crimes in the country is eminent,” Mr Kilonzo explained.
He told a news conference on Friday that the ICC would then require victims of the post election violence to present their cases before the Pre-Trial Chamber within 30 days.
“Under the law, the Prosecutor is obliged to serve a notice to all victims in Kenya and he will be doing so by a communiqué telling them that they have a right of representation. Representations are like to say no, do not open up investigation or yes, open up investigations. The communiqué will be sent through civil society and media,” he said.
Mr Kilonzo added that the government would still cooperate with the ICC prosecutor.
“This is also a very vital part of what the government is doing because it has pledged full cooperation with Mr Ocampo. I have already forwarded this letter to His Excellency the President and to the Right Honourable Prime Minister for their information,” he disclosed.
Mr Kilonzo further dispelled the notion that the government had abandoned the formation of a local tribunal to try perpetrators of post election violence.
“The government has not given up on the local tribunal. As a minister I have suggested to the two principals that they allow me to revisit my Cabinet memo for my proposed Bill or alternatively take over the Imanyara Bill which looks like it is closing very fast because Parliament has been unable to provide the necessary majority for its debate,” he noted adding that it was a sad moment for Kenya.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that Kenya would not hand over PEV suspects over to The Hague as it would be paramount to the country ceding its sovereignty.
Mr Odinga said Kenya was not a failed State as it had a functioning Judiciary and did not need its suspects tried by a foreign court.
“For the government to agree to refer (people for trial) to another jurisdiction will be abdication of its responsibility. We have a system that’s working but we will cooperate if the International Criminal Court (ICC) decides to proceed,” he said during his weekly address to the National Assembly.
He also urged Kenyans to remain calm and not to be scared by the possible indictment by the ICC.
“So many names may be in that list for Mr Ocampo. Even my name… and I have said Mr Speaker, if my name is there and they carry out investigations and I am found to be culpable, Mr Speaker, I am ready to face the trial to prove my innocence,” Mr Odinga had said.
“Even if you are charged it doesn’t mean you are guilty. So why is this thing causing too much tension. Too much fear?” Let Mr Ocampo come and do his investigation,” he said on Wednesday.
Early this month the government also defended its move not to refer the trial of post election violence suspects to the International Criminal Court saying this was guided by the desire to ‘safeguard’ ongoing institutional reforms.
On November 6, Mr Kilonzo said that a self referral was likely to receive some resistance from a section of Members of Parliament further undermining the pace of reforms. He said the decision was unanimous within the top leadership and was based on the desire to sustain the pace of reforms which has lately hastened.
Meanwhile, victims of the PEV continue to cry for justice.