NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – A renowned conflict resolution expert is now warning Kenyan suspects against honouring summonses by the International Criminal Court (ICC), alleging that they are likely to be detained there.
Ugandan scholar on conflict issues Dr David Matsanga says there are indications that some or all of the Ocampo Six will be detained at The Hague once they honour the summonses issued by the Pre-trial chamber last week, and formally served on them on Wednesday.
Citing Article 58 of the Rome Statute, Dr Matsanga said the ICC Prosecutor can resort to including a detention warrant with the summonses issued to all the suspects.
“What I am talking about is very evident from the latest maneuvers of the ICC Prosecutor; there are all indications that he is likely to substitute the summonses with arrest warrants when the suspects face the court next month,” Dr Matsanga said in an interview on Thursday.
“I have stated publicly and I have indeed advised the government on this matter. They should not honour the summonses. They will be detained,” he added.
The ICC has summoned Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of the Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura, suspended Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Tinderet Member of Parliament Henry Kosgey who stepped aside to face charges of abuse of office.
Others required to make an initial appearance before the judges at The Hague are former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang of Kass FM. All the suspects have expressed willingness to honour the summonses.
“If I were them, I would not go there. They are walking into a trap set up by Ocampo, if you look critically at the warnings he has been giving you will understand what I am saying,” he said in reference to prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo’s concerns over Amb Muthaura’s continued stay in office where he largely controls the country’s security management by virtue of his position as advisor of the National Security team.
“It is apparent Ocampo is building a case against Muthaura, he has questioned his continued stay in office on claims that he fears Muthaura may interfere with the investigations and witnesses. This is a serious issue which, if put before the judges can see Ocampo easily get a warrant of arrest,” he warned. “It is not different from other suspects.”
Article 58 of the Rome statute states that “at any time after the initiation of an investigation, the Pre-Trial Chamber shall, on the application of the Prosecutor, issue a warrant of arrest of a person if, having examined the application and the evidence or other information submitted by the Prosecutor, it is satisfied that:
(a) There are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; and
(b) The arrest of the person appears necessary:
(i) To ensure the person\’s appearance at trial,
(ii) To ensure that the person does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the court proceedings, or
(iii) Where applicable, to prevent the person from continuing with the commission of that crime or a related crime which is within the jurisdiction of the Court and which arises out of the same circumstances.
Dr Matsanga’s argument is particularly based on part (ii) which states that the pre-trial chamber can issue a warrant of arrest “to ensure that the person does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the court proceedings.”
“Ocampo has said he fears Muthaura may interfere with his witnesses and the investigation, what can stop him asking for his detention, we are walking a very tight rope here,” he said and advised the suspects to get “third party insurance from the Western powers like the USA as a guarantee that they will return back here because they are the ones pulling strings of the ICC.”
“The government should demand that assurance, it is not a joke. This is an issue that can easily degenerate into violence in this country, there is no prior notice that the suspects will be detained, now imagine if it catches Kenyans by surprise,” he posed.
The expert’s comments come amid speculation that the ICC process has been politicised ahead of the 2012 General Election. Some quarters have also alleged that some Western countries are pushing for the detention of the Ocampo Six suspects.
There are fears that detention would have serious implications on the presidential ambitions of Messrs Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
Dr Matsanga is part of team that is advising the government on ICC and conflict issues through his Africa World Media Limited, an international Public Relations firm.
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