How Ruto unchained himself at the Hague
The freedom from the International Criminal Court yoke that Deputy President William Ruto is revelling in was the outcome of a vigorous local and international political, diplomatic and legal pressure by the government on the Netherlands-based court.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, who headed the Trial Chamber bench that handled the case against Mr Ruto and his co-accused Joshua arap Sang, spoke of “an aggressive political campaign” which the government waged against the ICC.
As he sought to make his opinion on two issues, he remarked of the first one: “One is the matter of the aggressive campaign that the government involved itself in against this trial that was about the individual responsibility of the accused.”
However, President Uhuru Kenyatta has denied there was political interference involved in the ICC cases.
“Throughout the period, the prosecutor had free access to Kenya with the full cooperation of the State despite the fact that I was President. A good number of witnesses were based in Europe after being moved from Kenya,” said the President.
While stating that the role of the International Criminal Court was to help end the “culture of political violence and impunity” that has taken root in Kenya, the Judge urged the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to be part of the solution — and not the problem.
But the President, who is on a State visit to France, reiterated his call for African nations to withdraw from the ICC, accusing the court of bias.
“The ICC no longer follows the basic tenets we all supported when it was being created. We as Kenyans and Africans need to pull out because we cannot have a court that pursues an agenda other than the one the court was created for.”
The President welcomed the dropping of cases as a vindication of the two accused.
“The charges against us were trumped up charges. We were never supposed to have been before that court. Seven and a half years later, our position has been accepted by the court,” said Mr Kenyatta.
While President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto rallied AU members, Kenya’s top diplomat, Ms Amina Mohammed, used her position as Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary to convince nations of the world at both continental and international level that the Jubilee leadership was being targeted unfairly by the ICC.
In court at the ICC, top notch British or English educated lawyers with vast knowledge and experience of The Hague — the best that money can buy — were hired to lead the cases against the prosecutor.
President Kenyatta was represented by lawyers Steven Kay, a Queens Counsel and Gillian Higgins, who is described as a high-class lawyer at the ICC.
Mr Ruto was represented by lawyer Karim Khan, a Queens Counsel, who is a specialist in international criminal law with long experience on ICC-related cases and lawyer David Hooper, who is described as “lawyer with decades of experience in international criminal law”.
On Wednesday, ICC’s spokesman Fadi el Abdallah said: “The court by the nature of the crimes under its jurisdiction, prosecutes high level personalities, which creates a lot of media and diplomatic attention and positions.”