NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Presidency has told the African Union (AU) to forward its concerns regarding the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto to Trial Chamber V (a) because it has no powers to consider arguments related to ongoing cases.
Second Vice President Cuno Tarfusser said in a statement that such concerns must be raised with the relevant chamber in accordance with the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the Rome Statute.
The AU had asked the court to consider the national responsibilities that the two accused have, saying they are barred from leaving the country at the same time.
The union also wants the two not to be forced to attend all the sessions of their trial as due to their national duties.
“The Second Vice-President clarified that the Presidency has no legal powers to consider arguments and concerns related to ongoing cases,” said the statement.
“Such matters should be raised before the relevant chambers in accordance with the Rome Statute and the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.”
The union had also asked that the court proceedings be stopped until a pending request to have the cases referred back home is heard and determined.
But Judge Tarfusser said that there was no pending request for a deferral of the Kenyan cases.
“He also noted, in response to a reference made in the letter from the African Union, that there are no pending requests before the ICC for the deferral of Kenya-related cases to Kenyan judicial institutions,” read the ICC statement.
This comes at a time when the AU has called for a special summit meeting on October 13 in Addis Ababa to decide whether or not the 34 African ICC member states should withdraw from the Rome Statute in support of Kenya.
Kenya has already started the process of pulling out from the Rome Statute and initial reports had indicated that other African states would do the same as a result of the court’s apparent targeting of Africans.
Thirty four African states are member states of the ICC.
“The Judges of the Court must take all their decisions in accordance with the mandate and legal framework established by the States that created the court – including the 34 African States that are party to the Rome Statute,” said Judge Tarfusser.
Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eritrea had also been allowed by the Trial Chamber V (a) to make submissions why Ruto should be allowed to attend partial sessions.
The judges had suspended a decision allowing Ruto to attend some of the sessions after the Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appealed against it.