News / Africa

Kenyan Denies Obstructing Case Against its President

FILE - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) and a member of the Defense Council attend a hearing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 21, 2011.
FILE - Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (R) and a member of the Defense Council attend a hearing at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Sept. 21, 2011.
Reuters
Kenya's most senior government lawyer rejected claims on Thursday it was obstructing the International Criminal Court's investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
    
Prosecutors say Kenya's government has hindered access to bank and telephone records which they consider essential to secure a conviction on charges that Kenyatta orchestrated  violence that swept Kenya after elections in 2007.
    
The case is a test of the authority and credibility of the court, which has seen several cases collapse and secured just one conviction in 11 years.
    
It has also driven a wedge between the court's Western backers and African allies of Kenya, many of which launched a diplomatic push to have Kenyatta's trial scrapped or deferred following his election as president last year.
    
Kenyatta, who is head both of state and government, denies the charges.
    
Speaking at a meeting to decide whether Kenya is in breach of its obligation to cooperate with the court, Kenya's attorney-general Githu Muigai said prosecutors' requests for access to Kenyatta's bank records had not been correctly filed. That left Kenya with no choice but to refuse.
    
"Prosecutors cannot parade in the garments of the court, invoking powers they do not have," Muigai told the court.
    
Kenya could only breach Kenyatta's privacy by opening up his bank records if prosecutors first obtained an order from judges compelling the government to do so, he said.
    
Last week, prosecutors told the court access to Kenyatta's bank records were their last best hope of successfully prosecuting the politician in the face of "pure obstructionism" by the Kenyan government.
    
They said bank records would allow them to see if he had indirectly paid large sums of money to those who carried out the violence, in which 1,200 people died and thousands were driven from their homes.
    
In court filings, they have spoken of a "climate of fear" that has deterred witnesses from testifying against Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father. His trial has been postponed four times as prosecutors sought to shore up their case.
    
Speaking for the prosecution, lawyer Ben Gumpert said Kenya's interpretation of the law appeared to have been made up on the spur of the moment.
    
"This request was made 22 months ago," he said. "The Kenyan government kept saying: 'Yes, yes, we're getting round to it,' until recently... Because the argument advanced today hadn't yet occurred to them."
    
While lobbying hard in diplomatic forums against the charges, Kenyatta has obeyed all summons to attend the court and followed other instructions made by it.
    
The court has also charged his deputy and former rival William Ruto in a similar but separate case. Both men are vigorously contesting the charges they face, and have hired prominent London human rights lawyers to defend them.
    
While Western powers led the push to establish the court and are keen to support it, they are also anxious to maintain relations with Kenya, seen as a key ally in the battle against militant Islamism in neighboring Somalia.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid