, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – The cases against Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang are set to go ahead after the International Criminal Court rejected appeals challenging the court’s jurisdiction to try them over crimes against humanity.
In a ruling on Thursday, the Appeals Chamber rejected the application in which the Ocampo 4 had contested interpretation of the term ‘organisational policy’ as a component of crimes against humanity.
“In its decisions, the Appeals Chamber indicated that the interpretation and existence of an ‘organisational policy’ relates to the substantive merits of this case as opposed to the issue of whether the court has subject-matter jurisdiction to consider such questions. These issues relate to whether the Pre-Trial Chamber erred when it confirmed the charges in respect of the accused,” the ICC indicated.
“As the prosecutor has expressly alleged crimes against humanity, including the existence of an ‘organisational policy’, the Appeals Chamber found that the ICC has subject-matter jurisdiction over the alleged crimes.”
The judges ruled that the existence of such a policy is not a question of jurisdiction, but rather a question to be determined on the merits.
The four Kenyans had applied to the ICC Appeals Chamber after their charges were confirmed on January 23.
Just last Wednesday, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo had hoped that the Appeals Chamber would rule on the jurisdiction application before the trial proceedings kicked off.
He also insisted that the ICC was not bothered by Kenya’s domestic politics or the requests that the trails be postponed until after the General Election.
“The OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) noted that it is not the role of the ICC to define the outcome of Kenya’s electoral process or to intervene in the political process,” Ocampo said.
This is the second application by the Ocampo 4 that has hit a snag after they were condemned to trial by the Pre Trial Chamber.
Their first appeal against the decision of the Pre Trial Chamber was the first to be rejected.
The Kenyan cases will now proceed full throttle to trial, with the process set to commence on June 11 and 12 when the parties will appear at The Hague for a status conference.
Ruto and Sang’s defence teams will attend their status conference on June 11 while lawyers for Kenyatta and Muthaura will appear the following day.
The agenda of the status conference includes setting the date of the trials, time estimates and format of disclosure of evidence.
They will also say if it will be necessary to make any site visits at the trial stage and agree on appropriate language for the parties in the cases.
According to the communication from the Presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki, the parties will further inform the Trial Chamber if they will use anonymous witnesses and whether they will require protection.
The four accused Kenyans will face Ocampo’s successor Fatou Bensouda during trial, since Ocampo’s term comes to an end on June 16, just days after the status conferences take place.