And so ‘The Grand Trial’ has begun. The Kenya Forum fears that the proceedings in at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague have started as they mean to go on, and have been going on since the pre-trial period began.
The ICC judges have at least saved Kenya the embarrassment and potential governmental logistical problem of President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto having to be in court at the same time, and hence both out of Kenya at the same time where at least one of them should be at any given time to carry on the business of running the country. William Ruto’s and Joshua arap Sang’s case starts today, that of Uhuru Kenyatta begins on November 12.
TRIAL BY MEDIA?
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who before has opined that the case should not be fought out in the media, has yet again done just that.
Yesterday she warned the suspects against bribing witnesses to pull out of giving testimony, which several have done.
“These people bribing or inducing witnesses must know that it is a crime that attracts a five-year jail term”, she said at a press conference. In saying so Ms Bensouda effectively accused and condemned the defendants for doing just that, bribing and inducing witnesses to pull out, without producing any evidence to prove it.
The defence lawyers have in the past suggested that prosecution witnesses were induced, paid and coached to give testimony against the accused.
KEEP IT IN COURT
The truth is that this is Kenya, this is the ICC and this is in part international politics as well as a judicial process: both statements could be true. Witnesses could have been induced both to appear and to withdraw.
Either way, this megaphone justice should stop. It is not in the interests of justice and it would not be allowed in many judicial systems throughout the world, where a judge would by now have pulled in the prosecution and the defence legal teams to warn them against issuing such statements out of court.
WHO WAS ‘INDIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE’?
The Kenya Forum also notes that prosecutor Bensouda has changed her position within the last 48 hours. She is no longer accusing William Ruto of being ‘a direct perpetrator’ of the 2007/08 post election violence in Kenya but says he was ‘indirectly responsible’. Bensouda claimed yesterday that the intention was to gain political power through violence if Raila Odinga and the ODM did not win the election. So we say again, on that basis, following that logic, why is A. N. Other or others, not arraigned before the ICC?
Who knows how it will all pan out but it’s going to be a long haul. One thought: if after all that has gone before and now the trial, and the cost of it all, will it not be ironic if the only person to be found guilty is a local radio presenter? What’s the betting?