Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ruto off to Hague for Ocampo talks

ELVIS OGINA | NATION Eldoret North MP William Ruto heads for the check-in counters at the departure area of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, on Wednesday. He was accompanied by Belgut MP Charles Keter (left).

ELVIS OGINA | NATION Eldoret North MP William Ruto heads for the check-in counters at the departure area of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, on Wednesday. He was accompanied by Belgut MP Charles Keter (left). 

By NATION TEAM, [email protected]

Former Higher Education minister William Ruto flew to The Hague Wednesday night for a meeting with Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo Thursday morning.

Mr Ruto said he had requested the meeting to record a statement with the International Criminal Court, which is investigating the violence that broke out after the 2007 election.

He said: “I asked for an appointment with Ocampo and his group so that we can set the record straight and get to the truth and I’m happy that they gave me the appointment.”

Mr Ruto told journalists at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport last night he was the prominent Kenyan who had written to Mr Ocampo to volunteer his assistance.

The Eldoret North MP is among 10 individuals that Mr Ocampo wrote to asking to meet them because they were adversely mentioned in statements by witnesses. Mr Ruto was also keen to meet the ICC officials to assure them that if they wanted him, all they needed was to “send him an sms” and he would present himself, an indication of his willingness to surrender to the court should he be required to do so, the member of the entourage said.

He was accompanied by Belgut MP Charles Keter. To see him off at the airport were MPs Joshua Kutuny and other supporters.

After April’s adverse notice, the MP is reported to have written to Mr Ocampo, offering to meet him. Mr Ocampo wrote back last month, a full three months later, granting the interview Thursday and on Friday.

Earlier, Mr Ruto had a day-long meeting his lawyers before heading to JKIA for the KLM flight.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo has given clear indication that he will pursue two sets of crimes and in each prosecute two to three suspects: those that were committed by sponsored militias and other gangs; and those committed by state agencies.

The prosecutor was in the country in May where he met different players.

They included post-election violence victims from different parts of the country, suspected perpetrators and witnesses.

Some 1,133 people were killed and some 650,000 driven out of their homes during the murderous violence that followed the declaration of Mr Mwai Kibaki as president in a close contest that rival Raila Odinga disputed in December 2007.

Post-poll chaos witnesses have been moved to foreign countries under the witness protection programme in readiness for the ICC prosecutions.

Violence masterminds

Mr Moreno-Ocampo has identified witnesses he wants to use against six suspected masterminds of the violence.

The Eldoret North MP’s trip came a day after it was reported that Kenya’s post-election violence suspects may be spared arrest by the International Criminal Court. Instead, they will be asked to voluntarily appear before The Hague to answer charges of crimes against humanity.

Lands minister James Orengo on Tuesday said the ICC prosecutor told him last week that he is not going to issue warrants of arrest against the suspects. The prosecutor made the disclosure during a conversation between the two in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Mr Orengo said that the prosecutor had resorted to the decision because he was “happy with the high level of cooperation” he has received from the government.

Summons to suspects are provided for in the Rome Statute that set up the court.

In June, two Sudanese rebel leaders wanted for crimes committed in Darfur, Sudan voluntarily appeared before the court following summons.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain (Banda) and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus (Jerbo) are charged with three counts of war crimes relating to the 2007 attack on the African Union peacekeepers at the Haskanita Military Group Site. The prosecutor is committed to presenting at least two cases before the court by next month.

Mr Orengo said he had presented the ICC prosecutor’s position to the government as he gave a report of the discussions.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo seems to be preparing ground for those whose cases he will present to wilfully present themselves to the court and secure bail thereafter to avoid the humiliation of being arrested.

Last month, the prosecutor told journalists at the ICC that a prominent Kenyan had offered to surrender to the court if required to do so.

Mr Ruto’s people think that 10 people flown out of the country by ICC have given evidence against him, just as they testified to the Kriegler and Waki commissions and it is their allegations that he might be seeking to challenge.

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