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Ruto rejects ODM offer, sees mischief

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – The  Orange Democratic Movement\’s (ODM) Deputy Party Leader William Ruto has turned down legal aid from ODM and is now questioning the sincerity behind his party\’s decision to assemble a defence team for him and two other ICC suspects.

Mr Ruto, ODM chairman Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang were last month issued with summonses to appear before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court\’s over claims that they are the mastermind of the 2008 post-elections violence in the country

Mr Ruto demanded that ODM should first withdraw a hostile letter it sent to the International Criminal Court first, before offering to hire lawyers for him and his co-accused.

"Before they tell us about how they are going to hire lawyers for us, when are they going to write a letter to withdraw the letter they wrote initially?" And this lawyers that they are talking about are they supposed to go and see to it that what they wrote in the letter in the ICC actually takes place?" They should explain to us, they cannot cheat the people all the time," he told a public meeting in his Eldoret North Constituency.

In its earlier petition to the United Nations Security Council, ODM had pointed at the previous failure to establish a local Tribunal and the difficulty of having credible local trials as reasons why: "The ongoing ICC process is the best and only means of securing justice to the innocent victims".

In a 16-point argument why the deferral should be rejected, ODM argued that Kenya was incapable of creating a credible judicial mechanism because local trials would be subject to "political manipulation by leaders pleading the ethnic card; threats to witnesses, their families and friends.

A group of ODM MPs allied to Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday announced that the party would hire lawyers for its members accused of crimes against humanity by the ICC.

"The party has lost direction, if a party sacrifices its democratic principles and policies and is transformed into a cult where a group of people make decision to which direction the party should take, we have said we don\’t want to be part of that," Mr Ruto said.

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At a press conference in Parliament on Thursday evening, Orange MPs led by Parliamentary Secretary Ababu Namwamba and Deputy Secretary-General Joseph Nkaissery said the lawyers will be asked to accompany the three suspects for their initial appearance at The Hague on April 7.

The MPs allied to Mr Odinga said the decision to offer aid was taken by the National Executive Committee and the Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday.

ODM also announced that it will sponsor a Bill to provide for the establishment of a credible judicial mechanism to try the cases facing the Ocampo Six. The Bill for the establishment of a local Tribunal would be brought to Parliament next week and will cover all details as provided for by the Rome Statute.

Mr Odinga, who is the ODM Party Leader, called for an independent prosecutor and the involvement of foreign investigators such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the UK\’s Scotland Yard if the trials are to be handled locally.

Relations between Mr Ruto and the Party Leader have generally been bad while Mr Kosgey appeared to fall out with Mr Odinga after it was announced that he was among those to be tried in relation to the violence that claimed 1,133 lives and forced eviction of 650,000 others from their homes.

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