, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – The International Criminal Court has assured the six Kenyan suspects that they will not be arrested or detained after their initial appearances scheduled for April 7 and 8 at The Hague.
The Court\’s Registrar Silvana Arbia said in an interview that the suspects are still considered free and would be at liberty to return to Kenya immediately after the hearings.
Ms Arbia says so long as the suspects comply with the conditions set by the court, their liberty would not be curtailed.
The court had set four conditions which include lack of contact with a victim or a witness. They are also expected to refrain from obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or interfering with the Prosecution\’s investigation.
They are also barred from committing crimes and to attend all required hearings at the International Criminal Court.
"Because they are free, they are not supposed to stay in The Hague, or to be retained here for any purpose other than the initial appearance. After the initial appearance, they are free, and on that same day, the Chamber will announce the first day for the hearing of whether or not to confirm the charges," she said..
The Six suspects are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali. Others are Suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto, Ex Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey and Kass FM presenter Joshua arap Sang.
The Court has initially directed that all the six appear on April 7 but changed the date for Mr Kenyatta, Mr Muthaura and Mr Ali due to lack of space. They will now appear on April 8 at 1430GMT.
The assurance comes at a time when there are fears the Ocampo Six might not come back after their initial appearances.
Ms Arbia has also revealed that the International Criminal Court is due to set up its offices in Kenya saying they are finalising the plan and the offices would be operational soon.
She also said that they will continue to engage Kenyans through TV and Radio programmes to help the people to understand the court processes.
The Registrar says following the success of their first programme dubbed " Ask the Court\’ plans are in progress to come up with other informative episodes after the Six suspects appear on April 7 and 8.
Ms Arbia has also downplayed differences between her office and that of the prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo saying divergent views on issues is normal and the court
She added that as Principals of the Court, both the Prosecutor and the Registrar are qualified professionals of high moral standing dedicated to the success of the Court.
"This is why, even in the context of complex judicial proceedings, both Heads of Organs have managed to ensure a professional and respectful relationship which enables us to adequately discharge our respective functions," she added.
Below is the full interview:
1. Have you received a request for funding from Joshua Arap Sang? Will the court consider the request?
No such request has reached my office yet, however, as soon as I receive a request I will assess the possibilities to assist him in accordance with my statutory obligations.
2. There are fears that the six will be detained. Is this a valid concern?
Those persons are free. They are not detained and will not be detained. They will come on the day of the hearing, and the next day they can be back in Kenya. Because they are free, they are not supposed to stay in The Hague, or to be retained here for any purpose other than the initial appearance. After the initial appearance, they are free, and on that same day, the Chamber will announce the first day for the hearing of whether or not to confirm the charges, and they will have to come back for that day.
Allow me to stress that Pre-Trial Chamber II has imposed four conditions on the six persons. The conditions are actually the same for the six persons, in both cases. The first condition is not to have contact, directly or indirectly, with a victim or a witness. The second is to refrain from obstructing or interfering with the attendance or testimony of a witness, or to interfere with the Prosecution\’s investigation. The third is to refrain from committing crimes. The fourth is to attend all required hearings at the International Criminal Court.
Only if one of the six persons fails to comply with those conditions, the Chamber may, on its own motion or at the request of the Prosecutor, issue a warrant of arrest.
3. Recently, the Prosecutor made a filing to the Judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber in which he claims that you did not allow him access to certain files. What is the working relationship between your office and that of the OTP?
It is completely normal within any judicial process, in any system, for the different parties and participants in the proceedings to have different views in respect of legal and procedural matters.
It is ultimately the responsibility of the judges to decide on the application of the law. The Registry and OTP officials, in the execution of their respective mandates, could have divergent views regarding the interpretation and application of the law concerning certain procedural issues.
However, as Principals of the Court, both the Prosecutor and the Registrar are qualified professionals of high moral standing dedicated to the success of the Court.
This is why, even in the context of complex judicial proceedings, both Heads of Organs have managed to ensure a professional and respectful relationship which enables us to adequately discharge our respective functions.
4. When are you setting up office in Kenya in view of the recent summonses?
We are making the final arrangements in relation to setting up an office in Kenya and I expect that the office will be open soon.
5. Recently you have launched the TV and Radio Programme Ask the Court. The programme was broadcasted during the prime time on many TV and radios stations. Are you planning to continue to communicate the developments of the Court in such a transparent manner?
As the Registrar of the Court, I would like to highlight the fact that the Court will make every effort to understand and act upon the information needs of the Kenyan population and it will use all necessary means to convey to the public of Kenya any relevant information arising from the judicial developments in the situation of Kenya.
I understand that the broadcast of the programme was very much welcomed in Kenya and I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the TV and Radio stations that have broadcasted the programme.
As I stated during my last visit to Kenya, only a well-informed public can contribute to guaranteeing lasting respect for and the enforcement of international justice and ultimately to the prevention of crimes.
To answer your questions, indeed we have plans to continue the broadcast of the program "Ask the Court" and the next episode will be released following the initial appearance hearings.
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