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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs