The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda yesterday wrote to the trial chamber closing the case against Kenya deputy president, William Ruto.
“In compliance with the Trial Chamber’s order ICC-01/09-01/11-1948-Conf, the Prosecution hereby notifies the Trial Chamber, Parties and participants that it formally closes the Prosecution’s case,” she wrote.
Ruto and Sang have been facing charges of crimes against humanity following the 2007/08 post-election violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and over 600,000 others displaced.
The two are among the six Kenyans who were facing charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague based court.
Early this year, the ICC cleared President Uhuru Kenyatta of the charges of crimes against humanity that were facing him citing lack of enough evidence to prosecute his case.
Others who were cleared include former Head of Civil Service Ambassador Francis Muthaura, former Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey and former Police Commission Major Gen. Hussein Ali.
On the 10th of March 2015, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”) issued two arrest warrants under seal for Paul Gicheru and Philip Kipkoech Bett, respectively, on charges of interfering with ICC witnesses in the Kenya Situation, contrary to Article 70(1)(c) of the Rome Statute.
Following the arrest of these two suspects in Nairobi, and the notification of this fact to the Office of the Prosecutor by the Kenyan authorities on 24 August 2015, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC unsealed these warrants of arrest earlier yesterday.
Bensouda cries out
“The integrity of witnesses is essential for the Court’s determination of the truth. Interfering with the attendance or testimony of ICC witnesses, or retaliating against them are serious crimes under Article 70 of the Rome Statute,” Bensouda said in a statement.
In its decision to issue the arrest warrants against Messrs Gicheru and Bett, the Chamber found that the evidence submitted by the Prosecution demonstrated, to the standard required at this stage in the proceedings, that Messrs Gicheru and Bett were involved in an organised and systematic criminal scheme, aimed at approaching and corrupting Prosecution witnesses through bribes and other inducements, in exchange for their withdrawal as witnesses and/or recantation of their prior statements to the Prosecution.
The Chamber thus determined that the evidence presented by the Prosecution established reasonable grounds to believe that Messrs Gicheru and Bett are criminally responsible under articles 70(1)(c) and 25(3) of the Rome Statute respectively for the crime of corruptly influencing a total of six Prosecution witnesses.
The Chamber decided further that it was necessary to arrest the two suspects to ensure their appearance at trial, so that they do not obstruct or endanger the investigation or proceedings, and so that they do not continue to commit the crimes charged.
“My Office is investigating, identifying, and prosecuting individuals who seek to pervert the course of justice at the ICC.”
She says her team has faced serious obstacles in our endeavour to unveil the truth, and to hold to account those most responsible for atrocity crimes committed against innocent Kenyans during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
She said the Office’s independent and impartial investigations and prosecutions in the Kenya situation have been methodically undermined by a relentless campaign that has targeted individuals who are perceived to be Prosecution witnesses, with threats or offers of bribes, to dissuade them from testifying or persuade witnesses to recant their prior testimony.
“I trust that the Kenyan authorities will fulfil their obligations under the Rome Statute to ensure the surrender of all three suspects to the custody of the Court so that their guilt or innocence on the charges against them may be determined in a court of law.”
Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Sang have been given a second chance to appeal the use of recanted evidence.