6 October 2012

Kenya: No Extension of ICC Cases, Says Bensouda

Nuremberg — ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has ruled out postponing the trials of presidential aspirants Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. Bensouda was speaking on the sidelines of a conference 'Through the lens of Nuremberg: The ICC at its 10th anniversary' in Germany on Thursday.

She said as far as she is concerned, their trials start on April 10 and 11, 2013. Earlier this week the IEBC set April 11 as the date for a second round run-off if it is necessary in the presidential election.

"We are going on with our judicial calendar. We have a trial date," she said outside the famous Courtroom 600 in Nuremberg where former Nazi leaders were convicted after the Second World War. Both Uhuru and Ruto have declared their interest in running for presidency in the March 4, 2013.

An poll by Ipsos Synovate this week indicated that Raila would beat Uhuru in the first round but lose in the second round run-off. If that happens, Uhuru would be unable to vote in the run-off because his trial in the Hague would have started the day before.

"We are not guided by the evolution of the Kenyan political scene in our calendar," said Bensouda when asked if the trials could be postponed to allow Uhuru and Ruto to participate in the run-off.

Attorney General Githu Muigai represented Kenya at the two day conference. ICC president judge Sang-Hyun Song addressed the conference along with pretrial judge Hans Peter Kaul and Prosecutor of Special Court for Sierra Leone Brenda Hollis.

When asked if she was satisfied with the cooperation of the Kenyan government, Bensouda curtly replied, "It could be improved."

Last month, Bensouda's head of cooperation and jurisdiction, Pakhiso Mochochoko, wrote a letter to Muigai complaining that the Kenyan government was frustrating her office with delayed responses to requests for assistance.

Without mentioning Kenya, Bensouda told the gathering of law scholars, former prosecutors and historians that her office was desperate for increased political support, assistance and cooperation of state parties.

"We need this kind of support to go to the next level. We cannot continue to do our work without cooperation of state parties," she said.

She confessed that the "multiplication of cases against diminishing resources" is becoming a big challenge to her office. She said it was imperative that the Prosecutor's office be properly funded to protect its independence.

Bensouda said Africa has continued to support the ICC contrary to the impression "created by a few propagandists". She said Mali has just referred a situation to the court.

"We will continue to work with the victims in Africa. Those complaining should instead stop targeting African victims. ICC will consequently have no role in Africa," she said to applause.

Bensouda said her office had learned how to be more efficient from the Thomas Lubanga case and to ensure cases are "speedily concluded."

The 93 year old former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, Ben Ferencz, made a guest appearance. Ferencz prosecuted the SS mobile death squads. He said the world must do more to tame the "war-ethic" and replace it with "peace-ethic".

"I have seen the horrors of war and I want to tell you only persistent, sustained and deliberate campaign against all forms of violence will help humanity," he said. The conference was organized by the German Federal office, Wayamo Communication Foundation and the new Academy of Nuremberg Principles.

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