13 February 2013

Kenyan ICC Cases Pose Challenges - Judge

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has admitted that there are logistical challenges posed in prosecuting the Kenyan cases.

In a statement made in New York, ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song pointed out that the trials are meant to start in April, "but since there are so many variables here, we don't know what's going to happen."

"At the moment, I must admit that the logistics aspect of the Kenya case, for example, is not necessarily easy," the judge said.

The four accused Kenyans for instance, are the first to be tried by the ICC when not in custody.

"These four suspects are under summons to appear. They are not arrested people. They kept on saying they will comply with the ICC procedures and so on and so forth. How they will come all the way to The Hague to attend the trial and for how long?" the judge posed.

He said the court has been grappling with prosecuting cases in Africa which unfortunately dominate the matters being investigated by the ICC.

The first Kenyan case is against former Eldoret North MP William Ruto and one-time radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. In the second case, those facing trial are Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Civil Service chief Francis Muthaura.

Two of the accused Kenyatta and Ruto, are vying in the March 4 elections on a joint Jubilee Alliance ticket.

During this week's presidential debate, Kenyatta said he will continue cooperating with the court and that he was committed to clear his name.

The Kenyan cases have elicited major arguments, including challenges to the court over coached witnesses and claims that some of the witnesses are unreliable in the evidence they gave during the confirmation of charges hearings held last year.

Already, Kenyatta and Muthaura have challenged the court to refer their cases back to the Pre-Trial Chamber on claims that part of the evidence that led to the confirmation of their charges had been dropped or was not disclosed to them.

Ruto has also asked the court to give him more time to prepare his defence evidence.

The trial chamber has scheduled a status conference on Thursday.

The main theme of the conference is to check if all the parties to the case are ready for trial in April.

The issues raised by the accused will be brought to the attention of the court.

Kenyan lawyer Wilfred Nderitu who is the victims' common legal representative in the case against Ruto and Sang and Irish lawyer Fergal Gaynor the common legal representative for victims in the case against Kenyatta and Muthaura will also make their views concerning the trials.

The prosecution led by Fatou Bensouda will also give views to the Trial Chamber V under presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki.

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