6 April 2013

Kenya: ICC Prosecutor Slams Kenyan Media Over Witnesses

Photo: Thijs Bouwknegt/RNW
Three more witnesses have withdrawn against president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta's ICC case (file photo).

Nairobi — The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has now taken issue with the manner in which the Kenyan media has been reporting the level of witness cooperation.

The Office of the Prosecutor said it deplored the reports levelled by Kenyan media on how witnesses had been dropping out of the ICC Kenya cases, terming them sensationalist.

The Office maintained that it would not be drawn into speculation on the status of witnesses because witness protection remains a high priority.

"The Office of the Prosecutor deplores the recent stream of sensationalist reports in the Kenyan media, on the level of witness cooperation," read the statement posted on its website.

The Prosecution further argued that Kenyans should allow justice to run its course.

But so far five prosecution witnesses have dropped out of case one, against Deputy President-elect William Ruto and former radio personality Joshua Sang.

The Prosecution had lined a total of 41 witnesses in this case and it is not clear how many of the five witnesses who dropped out are most important.

In case two against President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and initially former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, 12 witnesses have abandoned the Prosecution. Four of them were key witnesses.

The Prosecution had however lined up about 30 witnesses against Kenyatta and Muthaura before dropping all charges against the latter after Witness Number 4 pulled out saying he lied.

Some of the witnesses, who dropped out of the cases, claim that they were bribed and coached to give incriminating evidence against the three ICC suspects. Others gave contradicting information forcing the Prosecution to leave them out.

Critics of the Court argue that the Prosecutor's case against the remaining three Kenyans is crumbling but the Prosecutor maintains that it still has enough evidence to implicate them.

"The courage and integrity of witnesses are essential to the Court's determination of the truth, which is at the heart of justice," said the Office of the Prosecutor.

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