ICC joins trials of ex-I.Coast president and ally

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday decided to combine the trials of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and his close ally Charles Ble Goude because their cases alleging post-election violence are nearly identical.

The court “granted the prosecutor’s request to join the cases… in order to ensure the efficacy and expeditiousness of the proceedings,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Gbagbo’s refusal to concede defeat after presidential polls in late 2010 sparked a bloody five-month stand-off in the restive west African country in which some 3,000 people died, according to the United Nations.

The court said that Gbagbo and Ble Goude “have had charges confirmed against them which arise from the same allegations, namely crimes allegedly committed during the same four incidents by the same direct perpetrators who targeted the same victims.”

Gbagbo is alleged to have fomented a campaign of violence in a vain attempt to stay in power after being defeated in his bid for reelection by Ivory Coast’s current President Alassane Ouattara.

During the conflict, Ble Goude — dubbed Gbagbo’s “Street General” — whipped up support for the incumbent with fiery speeches urging mass mobilisation against what he called pro-Ouattara “rebels” and their foreign backers.

Prosecutors said Goude commanded men that murdered, raped and burned hundreds of people alive in an orgy of violence involving both sides that ended only after Gbagbo’s arrest in an assault on his Abidjan compound by Ouattara’s French- and UN-backed forces.

Ble Goude was arrested in Ghana in January 2013 and extradited to the Ivory Coast, but it wasn’t until March 2014 that he was sent to the Netherlands to face prosecution at the world’s only permanent war crimes court.

Gbagbo is being held in The Hague, where his trial is set to start in July 2015. No charges have been filed against Ouattara’s backers, raising claims of a “victor’s justice”.

A status conference will be held on April 21 and Gbagbo’s case will no longer start on July 7, the court said.

A court in Ivory Coast on Tuesday sentenced Laurent Gbagbo’s wife Simone to 20 years in prison for her role in the deadly post-election violence.

Photo Credits : AFP

ICC hands Bashir case to UN after Sudan fails to arrest leader

Sudan has failed to arrest its long-time leader Omar al-Bashir for genocide and war crimes, the International Criminal Court ruled on Monday, referring the matter back to the UN Security Council.

Bashir, 71, is wanted by The Hague-based ICC, the world’s only permanent court, for his role in the western Sudanese region of Darfur where insurgents rose up in 2003 in an ongoing conflict that has left more than 300,000 people dead.

He faces five counts of crimes against humanity including murder and torture, three of genocide and two of war crimes including attacking a civilian population.

The ICC in 2009 and 2010 issued two warrants against Bashir, but he continues to travel across the African continent despite a legal obligation by ICC member states to arrest him.

Sudan itself has not signed up to the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, but has been a member of the United Nations since 1956.

The Security Council referred the Darfur situation to the ICC for investigation in a 2005 resolution and Sudan, as a UN member is therefore obliged to cooperate, the tribunal judges said.

“The chamber considers that Sudan not only disregarded the 2009 and 2010 requests related to its obligations to cooperate in the arrest and surrender of Omar al-Bashir,” they said.

Khartoum also failed to inform the ICC why it could not carry out the arrest.

“This course of action calls upon the Security Council to take the necessary measures they deem appropriate,” the judges said.

The judges however warned that if no action was taken, the Security Council would never achieve its goal to end impunity for the world’s worst suspected offenders.

Bashir, who is gearing up for an April election expected to return him to office, last month accused the ICC and Western powers of “hounding” him.

He claimed the ICC was part “of the tools used to destabilise Sudan”, and said there never was a genocide in Darfur.

Apart from Bashir, four other Sudanese including a rebel leader is also on the ICC wanted list.

Photo Credits : AFP

ICC prosecutor in Uganda urges LRA rebel chief to surrender

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor pleaded on Friday for the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebel chief to surrender, vowing he would receive a fair trial just as his deputy faces.

Senior rebel leader Dominic Ongwen, a child-soldier-turned-warlord in Uganda’s LRA, appeared before the ICC in The Hague for the first time in January, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called for the surrender of Ongwen’s rebel supremo Joseph Kony, the last LRA rebel indicted by the ICC believed to be still at large.

“Leave the bush and encourage other members of the LRA to do the same,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said, during a five-day tour of Uganda.

“Stop committing crimes against your own people and others, do the right thing and surrender.”

Bensouda is visiting Uganda to update people on Ongwen’s case, including renewing contacts with possible witnesses.

“The wheels of justice may turn slowly, but turn they surely will, let us leave justice to take its course,” Bensouda said.

“Let us embrace the independent and impartial judicial process offered by the court as a means of bringing healing and closure for victims of mass crimes.”

The LRA is accused of killing more than 100,000 people and abducting 60,000 children in a bloody rebellion launched in northern Uganda almost three decades ago.

Known as the “White Ant”, Ongwen was notorious for leading his troops on punishment raids, which often involved slicing off the lips and ears of victims as grim calling cards.

The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in 1986, where it claimed to fight in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against Museveni’s newly established government.

But over the years it has moved across the porous borders of the region. The LRA shifted from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before again moving to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally crossing into southeastern Central African Republic and Sudan.

“Let me be equally clear to all other LRA fighters and followers: you have nothing to fear from the ICC. We are only concerned with those top five commanders against whom the court has issued warrants of arrest,” Bensouda added.

“Abandon violence and choose a new, more promising path; a path which has a future. Return to your families, communities and country, and start the process of rebuilding your life. It is not too late.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Mugabe says Africa must pull out of the ICC, Uhuru pledges a Sh92 million for African Court

The new African Union chairman Robert Mugabe said Saturday that Africa must pull out of the International Criminal Court. It must be on the agenda of next AU Summit in June in South Africa, said Mugabe who is also the President of Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe spoke during the closing ceremony of the 24th AU summit which ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday.

Mugabe proposal came on the heels of yet another initiative by the AU member states to establish an African Court of Justice and Human Rights to handle African cases currently referred to the ICC , at the Hague, Netherlands.

President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier said the establishment of the proposed African Court of Justice and Human Rights is now unstoppable and announced Kenya’s commitment of Sh92 million for the new judicial institution.

The President said Africa is poised to establish a broader African transitional justice policy framework and an African Court of Justice to handle all criminal cases from Africa currently referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands.

The Head of State said he has already signed the Malabo Protocol on the African Court before the necessary instruments are transmitted to parliament for ratification.


Collapse of Uhuru ICC case is a victory for Africa – AU

The African Union has described the withdrawal of the ICC case against President Uhuru Kenyatta as a victory for the entire continent.

Speaking during its 24th summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African leaders described the collapse of the case as a win against the forces of injustice.

“The victory for Kenyatta is victory for all Africa”, outgoing AU chairperson and President of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said at the opening session of the summit attended by over 30 Heads of State.

Aziz underlined the urgency to operationalise the proposed African Court of Justice to provide “African solutions to African problems”.

He said that for the last six years, Kenya has pushed for the comprehensive overhaul of the Rome Statute to ensure that its mechanisms recognise African realities and socio-political context with regard to conflict resolution, justice, accountability and political stability.

“And because these efforts have not succeeded, Kenya has indicated that it will associate itself with the new initiative to establish an African International justice mechanism that handles African challenges from an African perspective,” he said


DNA tests show body is not Yebei’s

A CID officer has said DNA test results show that the contested body is that of Yusuf Hussein, not ICC witness Meshack Yebei. Yebei’s elder brother, Ben, told The Star Newspaperthat the officer gave the family the information on Thursday.

He said an official announcement by CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro on Thursday would put a stop to uncertainties. Yebei’s family is however seeking an order barring Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital mortuary in Eldoret from releasing the body.

Hussein’s family is expected to collect his body for burial today. Uncertainties about the identity of the recovered body arose following Yebei and Hussein’s disappearances over the same period.

Yebei’s family had earlier insisted that the body found floating in River Yala, Nandi county in December was their son’s. Police had however said fingerprint tests indicated the body was that of Hussein, whose relatives had also claimed positively identifying.

Both families had gone ahead with burial preparations. An activist alleged that the confusion is a deliberate move to cover up Yebei’s death.

Ugandan LRA commander Dominic Ongwen arrives at Hague court

Top Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has arrived in The Hague to stand trial on war crimes charges. Mr Ongwen, a feared commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was taken into custody at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on arrival.

He was arrested in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this month. His trial will be the first time that a member of the LRA, led by the notorious warlord Joseph Kony, has faced international justice.

Uganda agreed that he should be tried by the ICC despite being a fierce critic of The Hague-based court. US and African forces had been searching for Mr Ongwen since 2011.

He is said to be the deputy to LRA commander Joseph Kony, who is still on the run. The ICC said in a statement that Mr Ongwen will be held in a detention centre in the Netherlands until his trial.

Kibaki, Kimemia, Mututho, Thuo linked to 2008 Mungiki attacks

Politicians and senior government officials helped to coordinate the massacre of ODM supporters in the 2007-08 post-election violence, according to an International Criminal Court document.

The 69-page Pre-Trial Brief was compiled by the office of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and posted on the Internet on Monday night.

It said President Uhuru Kenyatta, retired President Mwai Kibaki, Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia and the late Security Minister John Michuki were central in the planning of the attacks.

Bensouda also named Solicitor General Njee Muturi and former Embakasi MP Ferdinand Waitutu as among the powerful individuals who influenced her key witnesses to conceal Uhuru’s involvement in the bloodshed.

According to Bensouda, this team of senior PNU officials bankrolled the outlawed Mungiki sect that went on a killing spree, raped women, burnt houses and forcibly circumcised ODM supporters in Naivasha and Nakuru.

“Mr Kimemia explained that Mwai Kibaki, Kenyatta and Muthaura had identified Naivasha as the target for the attack,” Bensouda said of an alleged meeting between Kimemia and the Mungiki.

She said that during the violence, Kimemia transmitted Uhuru’s orders to the Mungiki, maintained regular contact with senior Mungiki commanders, and distributed money to them.

“Before the Rift Valley attacks, Mungiki members received automatic weapons, ammunition, grenades, camouflage uniforms and police handcuffs that the Accused [Uhuru] and Mr Muthaura had authorised PNU intermediaries, including Mr Kimemia, to supply them,” the Brief said.

Read more: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/kibaki-kimemia-mututho-thuo-linked-2008-mungiki-attacks

Uganda rebel handed over to CAR ahead of Hague transfer

Captured Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has been handed over to the Central African Republic to be transferred to the International Criminal Court, the Ugandan army said on Saturday.

Ongwen surrendered last week, dealing a major blow to the LRA’s three-decade-long campaign across several central African nations. He has been sought by the ICC for almost a decade to face charges including war crimes, murder, enslavement, inhumane acts and directing attacks against civilians.

Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said in a statement that Ongwen had been “flown to Bangui for further management” and was “destined to (the) Hague”.

Ongwen first gave himself to US troops in CAR, and was then handed over to Uganda’s army, then to African Union troops and finally to the CAR’s government, according to Ugandan officials.

Uganda said the final stage of the handover was witnessed by a US diplomat, but could not confirm if Ongwen was still in Bangui or on a plane bound for The Hague.

A former child soldier himself, Ongwen was a senior aide to LRA leader and warlord Joseph Kony, who is still at large and being pursued by regional troops and US special forces.

The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in 1986, where it claimed to fight in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

But over the years the LRA has moved across the porous borders of the region: it shifted from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before again moving to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally crossing into southeastern CAR in March 2008.

Combining religious mysticism with an astute guerrilla mind and bloodthirsty ruthlessness, Kony has turned scores of young girls into his personal sex-slaves while claiming to be fighting to impose the Bible’s Ten Commandments.

Photo Credits : AFP

Police say DNA tests show body thought to be ICC witness Meshack Yebei not his

The controversy surrounding the death of slain ICC witness Meshak Yebei has taken a new twist after police established the body was not his. CID officer John Kariuki says fingerprints examined show the body belongs to one Yusuf Ali. A joint DNA test with the two families will be conducted to establish the correct kin before the body is released for burial.

Missing ICC witness’s kin record statements

Five people recorded statements Wednesday with police in Eldoret over the apparent kidnapping of an ICC witness linked to the Kenya cases.

The witness’s wife, his two brothers and two close friends recorded statements at the CID offices.

Some family members said they had received information the witness was snatched on Sunday by unknown people at Turbo.

They were in two black cars that sped towards Eldoret town, police were told.

The witness was reportedly bundled into one of the cars as soon as he left the shop where he had gone to buy water for his sick child.

“He had taken his child to hospital at Turbo together with his wife. While at the hospital, the child began vomiting and he decided to go buy water at the market at about midday, but he never returned,” said his elder brother, who cannot be named because ICC witnesses cannot be identified.

The family members said they are working with the police to trace the witness.


Witness sticks to his testimony that Ruto made inciting speeches

A witness told the ICC he was standing by his statement to the prosecution that he heard William Samoei Ruto make inciting remarks during a 2005 function at which then President Mwai Kibaki was present.

Witness 658 said this on Tuesday as Ruto’s lead lawyer, Karim Khan, repeatedly asked him whether he heard Ruto call for the eviction of Kikuyus and Luhyas in a video of the function Khan played in court.

The function was held on October 19, 2005 to commemorate the centenary of the death of a leader of the Nandi, Koitalel Samoei, who was killed by British colonialists. The Nandi are a sub-group of the Kalenjin ethnic group.

The witness is testifying in the trial of Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang who face three counts of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 elections.


State asks ICC to withdraw DP Ruto’s case

The state has begun pushing for the winding up of the ICC case against Deputy President William Ruto as a high-profile meeting of the court’s signatory states in the US.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ICC case was dropped on December 5. Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Macharia Kamau requested the UN for “expeditious conclusion of the case” in a letter dated December 5.

There are fears that the collapse of the President’s case could strain the special relationship within the Jubilee administration, with the possibility that the prosecutors at The Hague could now tighten the noose around Ruto.

“The government of Kenya in appreciating the withdrawal of charges [against Uhuru], further calls on the expeditious conclusion of the case against the Deputy President as this would go a long way in facilitating normalcy in our country and securing our democracy and long term peace and security,” Kamau said.

On Sunday, Uhuru said he believes Ruto’s and journalist Joshua Sang’s cases will soon be concluded.

“We will continue to fight to ensure justice is done to them and they are released,” he said.


Uhuru thanks supporters as he leaves The Hague for Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta told a crowd of supporters gathered outside the International Criminal Court at the Hague that it is now time for Kenyans to come together and examine where they have been, where the country is presently and where it is heading.

Kenyatta who was speaking shortly after appearing before ICC judges at a Status Conference on Wednesday said only Kenyans can decide the country’s direction. He thanked the crowd adding that it is now time for him to head back home and continue developing the country. He is expected to arrive back in the country on Thursday morning.

During the Status Conference on Kenyatta’s case at the Hague, the Prosecution told judges that a total of nine witnesses can testify to Kenyatta funding links to the Mungiki.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s trial lawyers outlined allegations of multiple calls between Kenyatta and Mungiki as well as Members of Parliament said to have participated in the clashes in Naivasha during the 2007/8 Post Election Violence.

Full story:http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-193132/uhuru-kenyatta-thanks-supporters-he-leaves-hague-kenya

Sonko Reveals The List Of Those He Sponsored To The Hague

Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko was at the center of an online light fight with a blogger, over his Hague sponsorship initiative.

Sonko, known for his philanthropic nature, had gone out of his way and offered to sponsor sixteen Kenyans to the Hague as a show of solidarity with President Uhuru Kenyatta who is set to attend his status conference on Wednesday.


But before the senator landed in the Netherlands with his team of sixteen, a blogger had already accused him of lying to Kenyans and that indeed the sixteen had actually been sponsored by the Kenyan government.

However Sonko hit back at the blogger categorically rubbishing the ‘useless ‘ rumours .

“to those spreading useless rumors,I used my own cash to sponsor the trip.pls stop embarrassing urselves”  Sonko tweeted, attaching an evidence that he actually catered for their transport as well as accomodation.

Screenshot from 2014-10-08 07:39:53

President Kenyatta Jets Off To The Hague

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday morning left for the Hague, Netherlands ahead of his ICC status conference on Wednesday. Uhuru is attending the court sessions as a private citizen rather than a sitting president, after he handed over power to his deputy  William Ruto on an interim basis.

uhuru jets off UK AT JKIA

Uhuru Kenyatta made his way to the Jomo Kenyatta international airport in a rather brief convoy of three 4-wheel drive vehicles and a notable minimal security. He was accompanied by his wife Margaret, his daughter Ngina and a few leaders. Kenyatta and his team went through the ‘normal’ airport security checks.

Acting President William Ruto was not at the airport to see off Uhuru. However Chief of Defence forces General Julius Karangi and police chief David Kimaiyo were present. Uhuru boarded the same plane with cabinet secretaries Michael Kamau, Charity Ngilu and Phylis Kandie together with 6 MPs and senators.

Uhuru’s escort to The Hague court defended

KIitui South MP Rachel Nyamai on Sunday insisted that the move by MPs and other Kenyans to accompany President Uhuru Kenyatta to the ICC this week is justified.

Nyamai said the the move is meant to show the fact that Kenya is a sovereign state and its President must be respect by the world; the Star reports.

“As MPs and other stakeholders, we need to travel with our President to the Hague to show solidarity,” Nyamai said.

The MP was speaking at a Sunday fundraiser in aid of Kiio Catholic Parish in Kiomo/Kyethani ward, Mwingi West constituency.

Area MP Benard Kitungi, ward representative Peter Mutemi and Kitui assembly minority leader Alex Nganga were present.