NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 11 – A case filed by ex-journalist Walter Barasa to block an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has now been forwarded to the Principal Judge of the High Court for further directions.
Justice George Odunga said that the Principal Judge will determine whether to merge the case with the one lodged by the Interior Ministry seeking Barasa’s arrest and extradition to The Hague-based court under the International Crimes Act.
“Under Article 165 (3), a constitutional court is empowered to not only exercise the powers conferred upon him (Principal Judge) under part 4 of the Act but also deal with any constitutional issues that arise before him either in the course of exercising the powers conferred upon him under the said part (4) or separately. Accordingly, I direct that this matter be placed before the Principal Judge Honourable Mr Justice Richard Mwongo this morning for direction or further orders,” Justice Odunga ruled.
In the first case, Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku had filed a request to have Barasa arrested and handed over to the ICC to stand trial for allegedly interfering with witnesses in the case facing Deputy President William Ruto.
Barasa in turn filed a case to block his arrest and extradition, and instead urged the court to hold any intended trial here in Kenya.
Through his lawyer Kibe Mungai, he argued that if he is extradited, his fundamental rights would be violated. He urged the court to stay his extradition proceedings and commence his trial in Kenya to enable him clear his name.
He had suggested that the matter before the court be referred to the Principal Judge or the Chief Justice to hear them.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has accused him of bribing or attempting to bribe witnesses testifying in the case against Deputy President William Ruto.
Attorney General Githu Muigai, who spoke during an interview with KTN’s Jeff Koinange on Wednesday had announced that the government was ready to arrest and hand over Barasa to The Hague if the court orders it to do so.
“For as many arrest warrants as we receive, we will process them in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya and the law. And where the court says there is merit in this person being sent to that court to answer for whatever allegations, we will do it,” he stated.
Muigai said that even though Kenya has to cooperate with the ICC, it has to follow Kenyan procedures first.
Muigai indicated that Kenya has always cooperated with the court and if there are further arrest warrants, it will follow the due process.
He pointed out that if a Kenya court finds sufficient evidence that any suspects should be handed over to the court, Kenya will do so.