Kenya will not surrender wanted ICC suspects – President Uhuru says

Kenya will not surrender wanted ICC suspects - President Uhuru says

The government will not hand over the three Kenyan suspects to the International Criminal Court  (ICC) over witness tampering claims, this is according to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Speaking at the thanksgiving rally for the six former International Criminal Court (ICC) suspects, known as the Ocampo Six at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, the President said the three will face local trial.

The Head of State said the government will not bow down to pressure from the Hague-based court to extradite the ICC suspects.

President Kenyatta told off those criticizing the event saying it was not meant to celebrate the termination of the Kenyan cases at the ICC but to pray for the nation.

About 10 days ago, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called on the Government of Kenya to fulfill its obligations under the Rome Statute and surrender Walter Osapiri Barasa, Paul Gicheru and Phillip Kipkoech Bett to the court without further delay.

Barasa, Gicheru and Bett are wanted on charges of obstructing the course of justice.

In a statement, Bensouda said prosecutions before the ICC can stand or fall on the willingness of witnesses to come forward and tell their story in the courtroom.

According to Bensouda, 17 witnesses who had agreed to testify against the accused subsequently withdrew their cooperation with the court.

On April 7th, Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe said that the government was not ready to surrender three Kenyan suspects wanted by the ICC over alleged witness tampering.

Speaking to the media at his office, Kiraithe said the trio; Paul Gicheru, Philip Bett and Walter Barasa, who are alleged to have bribed witnesses under the ICC witness protection programme in the case against Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Sang were facing extradition proceedings.

The government spokesman also said the three men will only be extradited to The Hague-based court in Netherlands after all the legal procedures are met.

Early this week, the Law society of Kenya President Isaac Okero called for the formation of an Independent High Court Division to deal exclusively with cases of crimes against humanity.

Okero argued that the court would protect Kenyans from political violence and deliver substantial justice and truth ahead of next year’s General Election.

The LSK President further said that those accused of tampering with ICC witnesses should be prosecuted.

About a week ago, the International Criminal Court terminated the cases facing Deputy President William Ruto and his co-accused Joshua Arap Sang citing political interference and witness tampering.

Ruto and Sang were accused of crimes against humanity including murder, deportation or forcible transfer of populations and persecution, allegedly committed during the 2007/08 Post Election Violence.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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