Capital FM (Nairobi)

10 January 2013

Kenya: Bensouda Needs Two Years to Present ICC Kenya Cases

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
A pregnant woman runs past burning shacks in Nairobi's Mathare slum during 2007 post-election violence (file photo).

Nairobi — International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says she will require at least two years to present evidence against four Kenyans charged with crimes against humanity.

In an application sent to Trial Chamber V on Wednesday, Bensouda said she would require 826 hours of court time to lay out her case against Eldoret North MP William Ruto and radio personality Joshua arap Sang and another 572 hours in the case against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura.

The ICC Prosecutor explained that she would use this time to question 74 fact witnesses and six proposed experts in addition to allowing the defence time for cross-examination.

"The estimate does not include time that the chamber may grant to the Office of Public Counsel for Victims or the common legal representative to question prosecution witnesses, or time that the chamber may use to question witnesses," cautioned Bensouda.

She added that the prosecution might also ask for additional time to gather more evidence to strengthen its cases.

Bensouda noted that there was a chance that her office would obtain evidence that it had not had accessed to support the cases.

"Furthermore, the prosecution has also requested the transcription and translation of 41 audio/video materials it seeks to rely upon, which are not available in any of the official languages of the Court. Some of these materials are already the subject of a separate filing before the chamber," read the application.

She also observed that some of the restrictions to provide evidence, placed by the government of Kenya or some institutions, could be lifted and that could have a bearing on the time taken on the cases.

"As such, the prosecution submits that the new availability of access will constitute 'good cause' to vary the time restrictions," argued Bensouda.

This comes at a time when Kenyatta's campaigns for the presidency, with Ruto as his running mate, continue gathering momentum.

The two have remained confident and dismissive of the looming trials maintaining that they will still be able to run the country even as they attend the trials.

"What is wrong with that? A president can go to court and answer charges and if they are not confirmed he will continue to do his job," said Ruto last October.

"We are in an ICT world; we can do many things on the Internet and make sure Kenya is running so we can chew gum and scale the stairs at the same time."

Their opponents and several civil societies have used the trials to discredit their campaigns arguing that Kenya will face serious economic and social sanctions if their bids are successful.

Kenyatta, Ruto and their supporters however argue that these concerns are nonsensical as Kenya can survive the restrictions.

Some activists even moved to the High Court seeking to have the two barred from vying for the top seats.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has also added its opinion to the debate saying it will only give them the green light if they are cleared by the court.

"Uhuru and Ruto may be qualified to contest for elections because they are not guilty of any electoral offence. On the other hand somebody may say that Chapter Six of Constitution is very clear on leadership and integrity," said IEBC chairman Issack Hassan last November.

"But as far as we are concerned if the court decides that they are eligible to contest that is the people's choice; let the people decide who is going to be their leader."

The two have been charged at The Hague-based court for crimes including rape, murder and wilful displacement of people.

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