Now Bensouda wants three Kenyans surrendered to ICC
Bensouda to Kenya, Ruto and Sang, "It's not over yet until I say it's over"
Stung by the termination of the last high-profile Kenyan case, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda yesterday turned to three other Kenyans. She accused Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett of interfering with witnesses in the case. In a long-winded statement reacting to Tuesday’s dropping of charges against Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang, the prosecutor demanded immediate surrender of Barasa, Gicheru and Bett.
She blamed a ‘perfect storm of witness interference and intense politicisation’ of her case for its collapse. The prosecutor was at pains to explain her efforts to nail the duo and indicated her resolve to cling on the remaining three for redemption.
Bensouda wants them in on charges of obstructing the course of justice in the case against Ruto and Sang. “None of the three suspects, who have been charged by the court with obstructing the course of justice in this case, has yet been surrendered to the court by the Government of Kenya. I call on the authorities of the Republic of Kenya to fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute and surrender these three suspects to the court without further delay,” she said. She said the hostile environment referenced in Tuesday’s decision underscored the necessity for the Government of Kenya to surrender the three to the custody of the court.
With regard to the decision terminating the case against Ruto and Sang, the prosecutor said her office was still in the process of carefully assessing the decision to determine the appropriate steps to take. In the statement, Bensouda expressed her frustration with the Kenyan Government, the judicial arm of the court and sections of Kenyans. Prayer rallies “It has been a difficult journey since the Office of the Prosecutor opened its investigation of the 2007-2008 election violence in Kenya in March 2010,” she said.
Bensouda said her office only intervened in Kenya when it was clear that the victims had no other recourse to justice in Kenya and their pleas for accountability had fallen on deaf ears. Bensouda said contrary to claims by critics, her office had engaged in principled and diligent efforts to encourage Kenya to prosecute the violence matter on its own.
“In this case, we endeavoured to identify, secure and place before the judges evidence that could assist them to determine whether the accused were responsible for violence that was unleashed on Kenyans in the Rift Valley following the 2007 election,” she said, adding: “Yet, despite our resolve to unveil the truth and advance the course of justice in Kenya, this case was ultimately eroded by a ‘perfect storm’ of witness interference and intense politicisation of the court’s legal mandate and work,” she said.
Through prayer rallies, she said, politicians and community leaders branded prosecution witnesses as liars. On social media, anonymous bloggers engaged in a steady stream of speculation about the identity of protected witnesses, she added. Bensouda also took a veiled swipe at the appeals chamber of the court for denying use of Rule 68 evidence. She paid glowing tribute to both the victims and witnesses for their resilience and commitment to the quest for justice.