Alemayehu G Mariam
International Criminal Court Prosecutor throws in the towel
It is a dark and gloomy month on the “Dark Continent”! It is the worst of times in Africa when a man in the highest political office accused of egregious crimes against humanity waltzes out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) grinning like a Cheshire cat and flipping the bird to Lady Justice. It’s a good thing she is blindfolded!
On March 8, 2011, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, son of Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s founding father and first president, was charged by the ICC Prosecutor with five counts of crimes against humanity in connection with the post-election violence that occurred in Kenya in late December 2007. According to the ICC indictment, Kenyatta, at the time a government minister, planned, financed, and coordinated the violence perpetrated against ethnic opponents of his ruling party. Kenyatta is accused of using the “Mungiki organization” (“Kenyan mafia”) to direct murders, deportations, rapes and other forms inhumane acts of persecution. An estimated 1200 persons lost their lives in that violence and nearly 700 thousand were displaced. All the charges against Kenyatta were confirmed by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II in January 2012.
On December 5, 2014, the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, threw in the towel. She filed a notice with the ICC withdrawing allegations against the Kenyatta, effectively dismissing the charges. Bensouda accused the Kenyan government of harassing and intimidating prospective witnesses, the principal reason for the withdrawal of charges. She explained, “Given the state of the evidence in this case, I have no alternative but to withdraw the charges against Mr Kenyatta. I am doing so without prejudice to the possibility of bringing a new case should additional evidence become available.” Bensouda was self-consoling, “Today is a dark day for international criminal justice. Be that as it may, it is my firm belief that today’s decision is not the last word on justice and accountability for the crimes that were inflicted on the people of Kenya in 2007 and 2008, crimes that are still crying out for justice.”
In an official statement, Kenyatta feigned outrage. “There is no justice when human rights clubs and an international tribunal conspire to betray victims of human rights abuses and persecute the innocent. The tragedy of this travesty is beyond words.” He triumphantly declared, “One down, two to go.” (referring to his deputy and co-defendant William Ruto and disk-jockey Joshua arap Sang who are facing similar charges). Is it likely that Ruto and Sang will also get away with murders, rapes and other crimes against humanity at the ICC? Could it be that what is good for Tweedle Dee Kenyatta must also be good for Tweedle Dums Ruto and Sang. In time, they too will walk. To add infamy to insult and injury, Kenyatta’s lawyer had the gall to demand an “apology” from the ICC Prosecutor “for bringing proceedings based upon false witnesses and impugning [Kenyatta’s] integrity”. Such is the utter depraved audacity of criminals against humanity and their defenders.
Of course, nobody bothered to ask the tens of thousands of survivors of the 2007 massacres – the poor and dispossessed men, women and children of the towns of Kibera, Kisumu, Naivasha, and Nakuru and elsewhere – who awaited justice for years how they felt about Kenyatta’s flimflamming of the ICC. The powers that be do not give a damn about the thousands of helpless, powerless and defenseless Kenyan victims of crimes against humanity. For the powers that be, it’s all about mind over matter. They don’t mind, and the victims don’t matter.
When a president of an African country accused of multiple counts of crimes against humanity walks out of court by orchestrating and choreographing an unprecedented and audacious obstruction of justice (witness intimidation, stonewalling, sandbagging, firewalling and whitewashing evidence), it is not just a flagrant denial of justice to thousands of human rights abuse victims in Kenya, it is an outrage against all humanity; it is an affront to the rule of law. It is a triumph of injustice in Africa.
I told you… I told you Kenyatta was going to walk!
I just hate to say it. But I told you. “I done told you! I told you Kenyatta was gonna walk, slide right out of the International Criminal Court dancing the Watusi. I just knowed it!”
In April 2014 when I wrote my commentary, “Saving the ICC: A Proposal for a Witness Protection Program”, I knew Kenyatta was going to walk. I had smelled a rat earlier in January. By April the stench was stinking the high heavens. That’s when I threw in the towel. It was obvious to me Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta would never face trial at the ICC.
I sympathize with the ICC Prosecutor and the ICC. They have been feeling a lot of heat behind the scenes from the powers that be. After all, Kenyatta is a “sitting president”. The ICC, the ICC Prosecutor, the U.N. Security Council and the West in general have been incinerated by inflammatory “race hunting” and “neocolonialism” charges leveled against them by some African “leaders”. Since the middle of 2013, a number of African “leaders” have been beating the drums of racism against the ICC, the U.N. Security Council and the West to divert attention from Kenyatta’s crimes against humanity.
Hailemariam Desalegn, the ceremonial prime minister of Ethiopia and rotational chairman of the African Union (AU), went on the warpath scandalizing the ICC and the ICC Prosecutor for organizing an African safari to “race hunt” black African leaders. It was in stark contrast to the ludicrous and hyperbolic rants of the senile, buffoonish but original thugster Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who in 2003 said: “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times Hitler, that is what we stand for.” Mugabe is proud to be an “African Aryan.” Hailemariam is fleeing from the “Great White Race Hunter”. How ironic!
In a last ditch effort to blackmail the ICC, Hailemariam and his accomplices at the AU tried to orchestrate a mass walkout on the Rome Statute (the international legal authority which allows the ICC to try criminals against humanity) at a special summit of the African Union in October 2013. In other words, they had planned on dumping the ICC in Africa. It was an iconic moment of shame for Africa and its “leaders”. They gathered in Addis Ababa in a pathetic spectacle like panicked prey fleeing a stalking predator (race hunter) seeking safety in numbers. They huffed and puffed, ranted and raved against the “race hunting” ICC on a safari in Africa. In the end, the threatened “mass treaty-cide” brinksmanship flopped.
A successful prosecution of Kenyatta was very important to me personally
I have followed with considerable interest the ICC cases against the various Kenyan defendants involved in the 2007 post-election massacres. I have keenly followed the cases of Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and the radio disk-jockey Joshua arap Sang (also charged with various counts of crimes against humanity). I have read hundreds of pages of trial transcripts in the Ruto/Sang trials and viewed delayed video transmissions of some of the proceedings. I have read a considerable number of commentaries and newspaper reports on these defendants. I have also extensively commented on the the Kenyatta/Ruto cases in my weekly “Monday Commentaries”.
Why am I so keenly interested in a successful prosecution of these suspected criminals against humanity? To put it more bluntly, why am I so pissed off like a squirrel with a frozen pine cone about the “withdrawal of charges” against Kenyatta and likely dismissal of the cases against Ruto and Sang? The answer to these questions goes back to another post-election massacre in Ethiopia in 2005.
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