ICC shifts tactics on naming poll suspects

Monday November 22 2010

Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor.

Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor. 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected] AND ERIC SHIMOLI [email protected]

Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor, will ask judges to be allowed to present his case in open court, meaning that chaos suspects and the case against them could be unmasked before year-end.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo is expected to go before judges on December 15 to ask them to indict prominent personalities for their alleged role in the post - poll violence.

Before that, a meeting of ICC member countries ICC is to be held in Nairobi next week as The Hague’s investigations draw to a close.

Another high-profile meeting led by chief mediator Kofi Annan will be held in the city as well, as the ICC begins the process of deciding whether to try post-election violence suspects.

He had wanted to present the case in private to avoid hurting the individuals whom he wanted indicted.

However, given the circumstances surrounding witnesses and leakage of a confidential letter from the ICC, it is understood he will go for open submissions so that individuals accused of involvement are known.

This, said sources familiar with ICC work, was to ensure the public and civil society put pressure on the government to hand over the suspects once the arrest warrants are issued.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo secured the court’s decision to start investigations in the Kenya case after Parliament failed to vote for setting up of a local tribunal to try the suspects.

He has said he would present two cases against “four to six” suspects. Though his office has not confirmed the dates, most court watchers believe it will be in mid-December.

The State Parties grouping is the ICC’s top decision making organ and brings together all the 114 nations which have signed the Rome treaty.

Its meeting next Wednesday will discuss ICC’s role and the need for countries that have ratified it to cooperate. A day after, the Panel of Eminent African Personalities chaired by Mr Annan, a former UN secretary-general, will sit for two days assessing the coalition government’s record nearly three years after it was formed to end the blood-letting that followed the disputed December 2007 presidential election results.

Last year, the ICC was represented at the first assessment meeting in Geneva, Switzerland by Ms Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen, then head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division.

Sources said one of the issues that will be handled by both meetings would the progress in the investigations of the politicians, civil servants and businesspeople suspected of planning and financing the chaos and the need to have them take responsibility for their roles.

Last week, via a video recording, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he was tying up two cases of suspects who will be drawn from both the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The prosecution of the cases, he said, will ensure that poll-related violence will not occur again in future.

“We’ll prove that some leaders from both parties, both sides, were abusing the loyalty of their communities to attack others,” he said.

In the video shot on Monday and played to journalists attending a two week course on covering the ICC yesterday, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he has a case against six individuals, two of whom are said to be senior civil servants, considered as the most responsible individuals from both sides of the coalition government for the post-election violence.

“For the last months we were collecting evidence to present the case before the judges who will review our application and decide,” he said.

“The crimes committed were serious,” the prosecutor said. “They were not just crimes against one community or Kenya; but crimes against humanity and justice has to be done.”

Before coming to demonstrate to the government and the public the international expectations that the suspects must be punished, the ICC team will head to New York this week to meet UN officials and to explain the next steps they will take regarding the Kenyan case, sources said.

The ICC and Mr Annan have voiced concern at the way the investigations have been handled especially intimidation and witness bribery claims.