Kenya said on Thursday it will not extradite three Kenyans wanted by the International Criminal Curt (ICC) over tampering with witnesses.
Attorney General (AG) Professor Githu Muigai said instead the three should be tried locally as Kenya has a working legal system that can competently handle their cases. Muigai who is the government’s top legal adviser said the ICC is obliged under the Rome Statute and in exercise of the principle of complementarity to assist member states conduct local prosecutions.
“Kenya reserves the right under the Rome Statute to demand respect for the principle of complementarity and moving forward, without prejudice to the ongoing cases, shall be engaging the ICC in seeking the handover of the investigation files, evidence and requisite information to support the preferring of charges and subsequent prosecution of the three accused locally,” Muigai told journalists in Nairobi.
Lawyer, Paul Gicheru, Phillip Bett and ex-journalist Walter Barasa are wanted by The Hague-based Court for alleged witness interference in the cases against Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang whose cases were dropped early this month.
The country witnessed counter accusations over the authenticity of some of the anonymous prosecution witnesses used by the ICC during the confirmation of charges hearings against six Kenyans accused of bearing the greatest responsibility over the infamous post election violence.
Muigai said the East African nation cooperated with the ICC and it expected the court to as well cooperate to assist Kenya in prosecution the three nationals.
“The government welcomes the setting up of the International Crimes Division on the High Court of Kenya, which the Executive has been requesting for establishment since 2012. This will provide the framework to address all other outstanding cases,” he said.
He said while the allegations against the three are serious, their crimes falls within Kenya judicial jurisdiction.
Muigai said a comprehensive political programme has been designed by the government to reconcile the country and deepen national healing and cohesion.
“The government is committed to working together with our partners in securing enhanced support to victims of the Post-Election Violence as well as all other victims of crime and injustice,” said Muigai.
The AG’s statement comes about three days after it emerged that Kenya could face sanctions and risk being declared a pariah state, if it fails to cooperate with the ICC by handing over three suspects facing charges of corruptly influencing prosecution witnesses.
ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah said the institution had not received any official notice from the government, indicating its intention to stop cooperating with court, despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s declaration that no other Kenyan would stand trial at The Hague.
Kenyatta vowed on April 16 never to allow any Kenyan to be tried at the ICC over the 2007/2008 post election clashes in which more than 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 others displaced.
Kenyatta made the announcement while leading Kenyans in thanksgiving prayers at Nakuru, about 180 km northwest of Kenya, vowing to pursue local mechanisms to solve the country’s problems.