At his first press conference after International Criminal Court (ICC) judges confirmed charges against four of six prominent Kenyans for alleged crimes committed in Kenya during the post election violence of 2007 and 2008, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has described reactions of the suspects, government, and people of Kenya to the confirmation decision as remarkable.
Mr. Ocampo praised the fact that there has been “no violence” in Kenya and that “even the accused persons have responded well.”
“We appreciate that the judges explained the decision in a public session and that there have been no reports of violence as a result,” Mr. Ocampo told journalists in The Hague.
“I find this remarkable,” he added.
The prosecutor explained that the ICC’s investigation is helping to bring peace to Kenya, a country that has witnessed post election violence on more than one occasion.
“ICC intervention is helping Kenya move to a more peaceful future with no costs,” he said, adding that another post election violence in Kenya will mean “more lives lost, more people displaced and not to mention millions in money.”
Yesterday, the pre-trial chamber judges confirmed charges against four of the six suspects named by the prosecutor as being responsible for crimes committed during Kenya’s post election violence in December 2007 and January 2008. Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, Former Higher Education Minister William Ruto, and radio journalist Joshua Arap Sang are the persons against whom charges were confirmed yesterday. The judges decided that the prosecutor had not submitted enough evidence to establish that former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali and Former Cabinet Minister Henry Kosgey were involved in the commission of crimes against humanity during the post election violence.
In his address to journalists in The Hague today, Mr. Ocampo paid tribute to the six suspects, whose cooperation during the proceedings had made it possible for judges to arrive at their decision.
“We appreciate the fact that the accused appeared voluntarily before the court,” Mr. Ocampo said.
Referencing the fact that the ICC is enforcing international law in Kenya, the prosecutor said that “the suspects’ attitude contributed to that…they came to court voluntarily and without them, this would have been impossible.”
He also praised the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki who in a statement yesterday after the decision of the judges said that his government will take steps “to solve the problems of victims of violence still displaced.”
The prosecutor said that “victims do not have to wait for a conviction before they receive help. The government of Kenya has a responsibility to help its citizens and to protect them.”
The prosecutor also reacted to the decision of the judges not to confirm charges against Mr. Ali and Mr. Kosgey. He said his office will keep “investigating Kosgey and the activities of the police as well as crimes allegedly committed in Kibera and Kisumu,” where police allegedly shot at civilians. He explained that his office will submit any new evidence about the role of these two individuals to the pre-trial judges for reconsideration.
In response to a question as to whether he has a position on efforts made by Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto to run for president in Kenya, the prosecutor said that it is an issue for the people of Kenya to decide.
“I have no mandate to interfere in Kenyan issues. Who runs for president in Kenya is a Kenyan issue. It is not my place to interfere,” he explained.
The prosecutor concluded by saying the situation in Kenya, as well as his intervention in Cote d’Ivoire where post election violence also took place in 2010, sends a message to those wanting to use violence for political means that they will be held accountable.
“If you use violence to retain power, you will end in The Hague,” he said.