I support Muthaura’s plea for trial this year
Posted Saturday, June 30 2012 at 20:09
Ambassador Francis Muthaura – the oldest of the Ocampo Four – appears to be a haunted man. But he’s right about one very important thing.
He wants the case against him at the International Criminal Court to start pronto – before the end of the year.
He and I agree on this – justice delayed is justice denied. That’s a cardinal principle of the rule of law.
The other suspects – Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, radio journalist Joshua Sang, and Eldoret North MP William Ruto – want the trials to start after elections in March next year.
The ICC prosecutor seems to agree with them. I will tell you why Mr Muthaura is right, and the ICC wrong. There are also intriguing sub-plots.
Mr Muthaura is not a spring chicken. He will turn 66 on October 20. That’s not ancient, but it definitely puts him in the last stanza of his life. But get this – trials at the ICC usually take years.
In all likelihood, Mr Muthaura will be over 70 before his case concludes. Trials at The Hague are exhausting and stressful.
Even for a younger man in more robust health, a trial for crimes against humanity can be gruelling. The emotional cost to the suspect and his family must be very high.
This is especially true if one considers himself innocent. These must be some of the factors Mr Muthaura must have considered in seeking an expeditious trial.
The mighty and powerful have had a difficult time at The Hague. The late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic died while on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Former Liberian warlord President Charles Taylor just got convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
I am sure Mr Muthaura wants to spend his dotage playing with grandchildren, not being hectored by lawyers at The Hague.
His three co-suspects needn’t worry about their age. All are younger men. At 50, Mr Kenyatta is the “oldest” of the young bunch.
On age alone, Mr Muthaura’s interests are in diametric opposition to the other suspects. That’s why the ICC shouldn’t deny his due process rights for an expeditious trial.
But there’s more. Mr Muthaura shouldn’t be sacrificed – once again – by the mandarins of the Kibaki regime.
Media reports indicate that Mr Muthaura wanted to go into retirement after President Kibaki’s first term in 2007.
However, he stayed on through the election out of loyalty to Mr Kibaki. It’s that cruel twist of fate which has him on trial at The Hague.