Hague judges’ message to all Kenyans
Posted Wednesday, October 5 2011 at 22:30
Top government officials identified by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court as bearing the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence will know whether they will face trial by January 16. (Read: I won’t file charges against new suspects: Ocampo)
Presiding judge Ekaterina Trendafilova disclosed a post-hearings timetable that requires defence lawyers to submit their final written submissions on November 16.
The law binds the judges to deliver a decision two months after that date, which means Kenyans will know the outcome of one of the most watched court cases in the nation’s post-independence history in the third week of January at the latest.
Judge Trendafilova used the final statement of the hearings in Pre-Trial Chamber II to repeat a warning to the suspects that they should not engage in any activities that could trigger a return to violence.
She also took the unusual step of passing a message directly to the nation, which has been transfixed by the hearings.
At the end of a marathon session at 2.37pm, Ms Trendafilova turned to the cameras above the public gallery in a crowded courtroom and urged Kenyans to avoid threatening witnesses and to put their trust in the integrity of the ICC process.
“I want to assure the citizens of Kenya that the judges of this chamber… Judge Hans Kaul, Judge Cuno Tarfusser and myself, Ekaterina Trendafilova, will take our decision independently and impartially and only after having carefully examined all pieces of evidence presented by both parties so that justice will be served to everyone concerned.”
Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Public Service chief Francis Muthaura and Postmaster-General Hussein Ali face charges of crimes against humanity for what chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says was their role in inciting and funding the violence that swept the country following the disputed presidential elections.
MPs William Ruto and Henry Kosgey and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang faced confirmation of charges hearings in a separate case.
Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura expressed confidence that they would be cleared in brief comments after yesterday’s session.
“We were given an opportunity to give our side of the story and it’s up to the judges to decide,” Mr Kenyatta said. “It’s time for us to get out of the cold and go back home.”
Lawyers on both sides used their final 40-minute submissions to present starkly contrasting versions of the events that took place in Naivasha and Nakuru in the last week of January 2008.
The lead prosecution counsel, Ms Adesola Adeboyejo, and victims’ lawyer Morris Anyah said they had done enough to persuade the court to send the case to trial.
Ms Adeboyejo said they had assembled a “credible and compelling” case that showed Mr Kenyatta and Mr Muthaura came up with a common plan to retain power by any means necessary following the elections.
“Today we have learnt that Mr Kenyatta is referred to as the Boss by two Mungiki witnesses,” she said.
She said Mr Ali facilitated that plan through inaction.
“The evidence presented by the prosecution is corroborated by many sources and also by admissions of the defence,” she said. “The confirmation hearings have clearly demonstrated that there are substantial grounds to believe that the three suspects are criminally responsible for the crimes and that these three suspects should go to trial.”
Mr Muthaura’s lawyer, Mr Karim Khan, whose rhetorical flourishes have been a notable part of the proceedings, described the prosecution’s case as weak and dependent on the testimony of unreliable witnesses.