It has been a long and painful five-year journey with twists and turns that would make for a great who-done-it caper worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles’ penmanship. Unfortunately for the family and friends of the 1200+ Kenyans who died, some in the most horrific of circumstances including being locked then set alight inside a place usually reserved for those seeking the calming grace of their deity, the horrors of their beloved country’s darkest moment live in infamy to this very day.
Starting off as the “Ocampo Six” charged, by then-Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Argentinean Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo, with crimes against humanity related to the post-election violence that engulfed Kenya in the wake of the disputed presidential elections of 2007, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto, Francis Muthaura, Mohammed Ali, Henry Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang became the “Ocampo Four” as the prosecution was unable to confirm charges against former police commissioner Mohammed Ali and former Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey. The four soon became three as the ICC prosecution dropped charges against the former Cabinet Secretary Mr. Muthaura following the discrediting of a key witness.
Gambian Ms. Fatou Bensouda who took over from Mr. Moreno Ocampo has diligently worked through the legal labyrinth of obstacles – some valid and others deliberate – including allegations of bribery and intimidation of witnesses not to mention the election of two of the remaining three suspects to the presidency and deputy presidency of Kenya. It is the possible and eventual election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as President and Deputy President that drew the much-derided and in equal parts applauded “choices have consequences” comment by then-US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
I have a different take on the consequences Mr. Carson was alluding to.
That the 3 suspects are being tried at The Hague instead of Kenya or Arusha is the consequence of an elite and ruling class that has repeatedly acted with impunity including detaining, torturing and murdering their opponents, perceived and otherwise. Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Ruto and Mr. Sang have been tripped by a (Kenyan) legal system that has the reputation of being susceptible to manipulation and influence by the rich and powerful. As a consequence, they are now facing a legal system that is comparatively unforgiving and unyielding and very expensive!
Methinks that the accused, especially the president and his deputy, shot themselves in the foot with their intense lobbying to get the proceedings delayed and re-located locally; certainly away from The Hague. Said maneuvers played into the hands of those who believe that given Kenya’s past, it would be very difficult, almost impossible to try the two principals, Uhuru Kenyatta in particular, locally without interference and manipulation by the country’s political elites. All one has to do is pick up recent copies of local newspapers such as Daily Nation and they will see how incompetent and untrustworthy Kenya’s judiciary has been when faced with politically-charged cases:
Those responsible for the assassinations of JM Kariuki, Tom Mboya and Robert Ouko, allegedly at the behest of Presidents Kenyatta Pere and Moi respectively, have never been brought to justice, including the “big man” who was identified by the convicted assassin Nahashon Isaac Njenga Njoroge as the force behind the murder of Tom Mboya.
I also believe that the delaying tactics were designed to whittle down the number of victims willing to testify against the 3 suspects, sway public opinion against the proceedings and eventually compel the ICC to try the cases locally. Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto were indeed able to sway public opinion in their favor and ride the anti-ICC wave to the presidency and deputy presidency respectively. They were also successful in whittling down the number of those willing to testify against them, allegedly through bribery and intimidation. Fortunately, their efforts did not sway the required 2/3rds majority of judges to vote in favor of moving the cases from The Hague.
The guilty are afraid, so goes the title of one of Mr. René Lodge Brabazon Raymond aka James Hadley Chase’s books.
If the suspects have nothing to hide and enough evidence to sustain said claim of innocence, they should not worry about the venue of the trials. The president and his deputy also have services of the best legal teams money can buy. Mr. Kenyatta in particular has access to the Kenyatta fortune and given the coalition (with Mr. Ruto) of the suspects; a union of two person facing charges at The Hague, the two should have no problem funding their legal team(s) to fight Ms. Bensouda at The Hague