ICC confirmation hearings explained

April 10, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – The Ocampo Six suspects will get an opportunity to defend themselves against the crimes they are accused of committing, once the confirmation hearings come up at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in September.

International law expert Godfrey Musila has explained that the suspects would be allowed to give evidence that exonerates them from the alleged crimes adding that they could also get a chance to meet and field questions to some of the witnesses.

“The prosecutor will come before the judges and give a general outline of his evidence; he may call witnesses but he doesn’t have to do that. The defense will then question the prosecutor and they can also bring in their own evidence to show they are not responsible for the violence,” he explained.

“And (Luis Moreno) Ocampo will be gathering evidence even as the trial proceeds. He has to show that he has sufficient evidence,” he said.

Dr Musila further explained that the status hearing, which comes up on April 18, would serve as an opportunity for the Court to establish working rules and guidelines for the entire Kenyan process. During the session both the prosecutor and the defense would exchange information that is relevant to the case.

He also explained that such conferences would be held periodically, even after trials begin, to review the manner in which the cases were conducted. 

“It’s more of a house-keeping (meeting) so that everyone knows the rules of the game and ensure that no one says ‘we were not aware and we’ve been ambushed.’ In fact at every interval they will have such meetings to resolve issues that could come up,” he explained. 

Dr Musila also discounted arguments that the Court had no authority to rely on media reports while monitoring hate speech. He argued that it had that capacity but could not use such reports as evidence.

The court also has the authority to depend on reports from civil societies and other watchdogs but not use them as proof.

“What they cannot do is use that information as evidence because of the veracity and reliability of such kinds of information. They can be manipulated in one way or the other but there is no rule cast in stone that it cannot watch what’s happening in the media,” he said.

“In addition, the court has its own investigators,” he noted.

He further cautioned the ICC suspects against disobeying the warnings made to them by the court, asking them to refrain from making divisive statements. 

He also argued that the Prosecutor’s case was somewhat weakened by the fact that the judges declined to include Kibera and Kisumu in the case.

“If the crimes claimed to have been committed by the mungiki collapse, then he has no fall back plan. It punctures the Prosecutor’s strategy but if he has enough proof with respect to the mungiki, then he has nothing to worry about,” he said.

Dr Musila was also of the opinion that the case would go to a full trial.

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