How ICC trial weakens war on al Shabaab
08 October 2014, 19:05
Nairobi - An East Africa's mediation bloc on Wednesday called
for the delay of the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to allow
his government to battle Al-Shabaab militants who still pose security
threat in the region.
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Executive
Secretary Mahboub Maalim said the International Criminal Court (ICC)
should post the proceedings to allow the East Africa region fight
insurgents from Somalia.
"We believe that this prosecution, should it be needed, must take
place at the end of Kenyatta's presidency. The evidence and witness
statements can be taken and safely stowed away until then, " said Maalim
in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Maalim, who also travelled to The Hague on Wednesday to show
solidarity with Kenyatta, said the Horn of Africa is a critical theatre
in the war against global terrorism.
"The ICC must act now to postpone these proceedings in the best
interests of this global battle and the immediate struggle for peace and
security in our region of East Africa and the Greater Horn," he said.
Kenyan forces entered Somalia in Oct. 16, 2011 to push back Al-
Shabaab militants, which used to control large sections of southern and
central Somalia. The militants are blamed by Nairobi for a series of
cross-border kidnappings, grenade and bomb attacks.
Since then, there has been a string of attacks by Al-Shabaab
militants and their sympathizers despite the efforts to restrain the
Maalim said the trial proceedings should not be used to weaken Kenya
just a year since Al-Shabaab killed 67 people in the Westgate Mall in
Nairobi, and just one month since the interception and prevention of a
major terrorist attack aimed at Kampala.
"I am here to say that this is no time to weaken a country and weaken
a region by removing its president for trial," Maalim said, adding that
the ICC status conference comes just two days since a major Somali and
AMISOM offensive in Southern Somalia drove Al- Shabaab from their final
Read also: Uhuru: Nothing left in ICC case
"But for now, we are in the midst of a critical battle to beat the
Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia and preserve the security of the region
by preventing any further spread of this radical disease," he said.
He commended president Kenyatta, currently chairman of the East
African Community and Rapporteur of IGAD, on his display of respect for
the rule of law.
Maalim said Kenyatta has been summoned to answer charges of which he
is entirely innocent until proven guilty, and he has taken unprecedented
steps within the constitution of his country to attend.
"Instead, my presence here carries a single intent: to represent the
need to preserve the collective strength of our region in our ongoing
battle against radical insurgent terrorism in East Africa, a region that
faces a clear and present threat to our security," he said.
Maalim's remarks came before the ICC Trial Chamber V (b) convened
status conference on Wednesday to discuss the "critical juncture" of the
During status conference, judges are not addressing the veracity of
the evidentiary threshold. This can only happen when the trial begins.
International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) Executive
Director Wainaina Ndung'u said the chamber will be seeking clarity on
the progress of implementing July 29 decisions ordering the government
to provide the prosecution with eight categories of records relating to
Kenyatta or companies and third parties associated with him.
"The Trial Chamber will hear both sides and later issue its decision.
According to prosecution, making available this information will
determine whether the prosecution will proceed with the case or not,"
Ndungu said the status conference will be "critical juncture" because
the Chamber will decide on two things - indefinite adjournment of the
trial as requested by the prosecution or terminate the cause which the
defense is demanding
The prosecution said the evidence available is yet to meet the
"beyond reasonable doubt" threshold necessary, and wants full government
of Kenya cooperation in making available certain information as ordered
by the Court.
Defence has been categorical that it is the responsibility of the prosecution to gather evidence against the accused.
The Defence has applied three times for the case to be permanently
suspended or issue a permanent stay, but judges have declined all
Judges said issuing a permanent stay of proceedings was an extreme
measure to be taken to protect the rights of an accused person to a fair
trial. This is not the situation in the Kenyatta case.
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