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ICC witnesses decide they won’t testify

Posted by Administrator on January 16, 2012

Louis Ocampo- File

Louis Ocampo- File

Two key witnesses of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo who were under protection abroad have decided they no longer want to testify. One of the witnesses has left the European country where he had been placed under protection while the other is seeking asylum in a different country.

The witness seeking asylum is said to have been under pressure from his family to return home but he feared for his life and decided to settle elsewhere. He is now surviving in a European country with support from good Samaritans who pay for his upkeep as he waits for the asylum application to be processed. “I have credible evidence but I cannot testify in a hostile environment. I have been under pressure from my family to return home but I think it is unsafe and that is why I want asylum so that I can organize to go back home later,” the witness told the Star on phone.

Reports indicate that the other witness has already arrived in Kenya. Last week, it was revealed that another prosecution witness had been arrested after he allegedly assaulted a protection officer following an argument. The two differed over whether the ICC should pay for the education of the witness’s children while he was under the court’s protection awaiting the start of the cases.

The witness claimed the protection officer was disrespectful to him. The protection officer had accused the witness of nagging. The director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Ken Wafula confirmed that he had received a report on the detained witness.

Yesterday Wafula said they had asked the ICC to carefully handle its witnesses and restructure the witness protection unit. “It is an issue which the ICC has to tackle because it affects the lives of the witnesses and the ICC process itself,” he said. Several witnesses were flown from Kenya to Europe ahead of the confirmation of charges hearings. Some of their families in Kenya have received threats after the identities of some the witnesses was established.

The witnesses who either testified or presented witness statements used by the defence fear their families may be targeted and intimidated in the event that the cases go to full trial. People looking for United Nations Ambassador Yvonne Khamati tried to gain entry into her Nairobi family home last year. Khamati gave a witness statement in support of Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura who is facing charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague.

A group of men raided her Nairobi home on October 23 and threatened to attack the family with a grenade. Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta and Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former police chief Hussein Ali, journalist Joshua Sang and Tinderet MP Henry Kosgey are the suspects before the ICC. Khamati was mentioned as one of Muthaura’s witnesses during the pre-trial hearing at The Hague. However, she did not give her testimony before the pre-trial judges.

The incident came a month after the home of a witness in Nandi was invaded by villagers who attempted evict them. The family then escaped from Nandi and sought refuge at a relative’s home in Eldoret town. A group of youths stoned the house belonging to the witness at his father’s home in Nandi North. The windows were broken but no one was injured. The ICC judges could confirm the charges against the Ocampo Six, ask for more evidence or drop the charges altogether.

The judges could also confirm charges for some of the suspects and drop charges against others or ask the prosecutor to carry out further investigations. The problems affecting the witness have emerged just days before the ICC judges make their ruling on the fate of the six accused of perpetrating the post-election violence of 2007-08.

The ruling is to be delivered on January 23 and has caused anxiety among the suspects and their supporters. Uhuru and Ruto are presidential candidates and their political ambition could be derailed should the judges decide to confirm the charges. The two have declared their innocence and hope that they will be cleared so that they have smooth run for the top seat in elections later this year.

Source: http://www.the-star.co.ke/national/national/58156-icc-witness-seeks-asylum-for-monday


One Response to “ICC witnesses decide they won’t testify”

  1. mkenya halisi said

    They should confirm the charges. Yes, some will die, but they cannot kill us all. A message must be sent to the other thugs planning and plotting.

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