, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 27 – The trial of the four Kenyans facing charges for crimes against humanity has gone a notch higher after the International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber V elected justice Kuniko Ozaki to preside over the cases.
According to the announcement published on the ICC website, Justice Ozaki will lead Christine Van den Wyngaert and Chile Eboe-Osuji at the trial stage expected to start at any time.
“The judges of Trial Chamber V elected a presiding judge pursuant to regulation 13(2) of the regulations of the court and hereby declare that Judge Kuniko Ozaki is presiding judge,” it read.
The announcement comes barely two days after Uhuru Kenyatta and Francis Muthaura asked the court to suspend their trials until the ruling on a case they have filed challenging jurisdiction is made.
Despite widespread debate and spirited bid by the government to have the cases brought back to Kenya, the ICC seems determined to proceed with the trials.
Other attempts have been made by African countries who want ICC cases handled by an regional court.
On Thursday the East African Legislative Assembly unanimously endorsed and adopted a Motion urging the East African Community presidents to call for the transfer of the Kenya Post Election Violence cases to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) from The Hague.
The regional assembly passed the resolution seeking to have the cases against Kenyatta, Muthaura, Joshua arap Sang and William Ruto referred to Arusha under the auspices of the EACJ.
The Motion which was introduced by Dan Wandera Ogallo from Uganda will now be presented to the upcoming 10th Extra Ordinary Session of the EAC Summit expected to be held in Arusha on Saturday.
EALA Speaker Abdirahin Abdi on Friday said it will be up to the summit to discuss and agree or disagree if the Kenyan cases should be handled in Arusha.
“It will be up to the summit to make a decision on the matter. It was brought by an individual and it will be after deliberations that the summit will say what it feels,” he said.
After the announcement by the Pre-Trial Chamber that confirmed the cases against the four on January, 23, the government formed a committee to advise the government on the way forward.
On Tuesday, President Mwai Kibaki urged Kenyans to maintain calm as the government was working to ensure the ICC cases are handled through a local mechanism.
Other interventions include attempts to collect five million signatures to defer the cases, which the ICC rubbished saying it would not serve as a basis for stopping the process.
The ongoing vetting of judges and magistrates is one of the key steps the government has taken to restore public confidence in the local courts, and probably a pointer the government is likely to use in its quest to convince the ICC to halt its process against the Kenyan cases.