, THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov 26 – The International Criminal Court still expects Kenya to hand over Walter Barasa – who is wanted for alleged interference with witnesses – “as soon as possible” to face charges in The Hague.
ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel said the issue of complementarity does not arise in a case such as the one Barasa is facing, since he committed an offence against the court.
“The only role Kenyan authorities needed to play was to confirm that the suspect against whom a warrant has been issued is indeed the one so that you don’t have the wrong person sent to the Hague, and hand him over at the earliest opportunity to the court,” Hebel told journalists at the ICC on Tuesday.
The Registrar made reference to the weekend arrest of four people close to former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba over suspicion of tampering with witnesses in the ex-warlord’s war crimes trial in The Hague.
The suspects in the Bemba case are due to make an initial appearance at the ICC on Wednesday.
Bemba who has been detained by the ICC since 2008 is on trial at the Hague-based court for three counts of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity for widespread atrocities committed in the Central African Republic by the DR Congo-based MLC between October 2002 and March 2003.
Hebel said the court expected Kenya to act fast, so that Barasa can be subjected to a similar judicial process in the Netherlands.
“There is no role in principle for national judicial organs to check the relevance of the case, this is primarily relevant to our court,” he explained.
The warrant against Barasa was unsealed in October after a judge ruled there were reasonable grounds to believe that he was corruptly influencing or trying to influence witnesses.
Barasa, 41, then moved to a Kenyan court to challenge his extradition and a case is yet to be determined.
The Registrar on Tuesday made it clear the ICC was the only competent court to try him, since the offences were committed against the court.
Barasa however strongly denies any wrongdoing.
“We ask a country to arrest a particular person and they are obliged to make an immediate arrest. It has happened in the past even within a matter of days and we expect this in relation to the Barasa case,” Hebel emphasised.
In court papers, prosecutors said Barasa had offered bribes of up to Sh1.5 million to two witnesses, and attempted to bribe a third witness so that they could recant their testimony against Deputy President William Ruto.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has accused Barasa of being part of a network trying to “sabotage” the case.
If found guilty, Barasa could face up to five years in jail.
The trial against Ruto and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang started in September but has adjourned until early next year, while the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to start in February 2014.