Nairobi â€” ICC judges have strongly criticised Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo for publicly naming six Kenyans suspected to bear the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence.
The three pre-trial chamber judges have ruled that the naming of the six suspects has unfairly exposed them to negative publicity even before the ICC determines whether they have a case to answer or not.
In a ruling on an application lodged by former police commissioner Major-General (rtd) Mohammed Hussein Ali seeking to be enjoined in the proceedings before the pre-trial chamber, the three judges – Ekaterina Trendafilova, Hans-Peter Kaul and Cuno Tarfusser – ruled: “The Chamber is cognisant of the concerns of the applicant with respect to the prejudice suffered due to the public disclosure of his name made by the Prosecutor.
“While it is not the Chamber’s role to comment and advise the Prosecutor on his interaction with the press and media, the Chamber nevertheless is concerned if his actions have the potential to affect the administration of justice and the integrity of the present proceedings before the Chamber,” they observed in their ruling made last Friday.
“In this respect, the Chamber expresses its deprecation regarding the Prosecutor’s course of action in the present case, as it has unduly exposed the applicant to prejudicial publicity before a determination of the Chamber pursuant to Article 58 of the Statute has even been made,” they added.
The judges’ ruling will come as a temporary relief to the Ocampo Six who have battled adverse publicity since their names were made public by the ICC chief prosecutor in mid December.
Besides Major-Gen Ali, others named by the ICC Prosecutor include Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, suspended Cabinet ministers William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, Civil Service head Francis Muthaura and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang.
The judges’ observation came only three days after Kenya, through its permanent mission to the United Nations, formally wrote to the UN Security Council asking for the deferral of the Hague trials.
In the letter underscoring the government’s resolve to have the cases deferred by one year, Kenya complained that the Ocampo Six had been stigmatised as a result of the prosecutor’s move to name them.
The judges’ ruling followed an application by the former police boss seeking to be enjoined in the proceedings of the pre-trial Chamber which is set to determine whether the Ocampo Six have a case to answer. The application was submitted to the pre-trial Chamber on January 20 this year.
The judges, however, rejected the application on grounds that Mr Ocampo’s request to issue summonses to the six suspects would be conducted on an ex parte basis and, as such, the former police boss has no basis to be enjoined in the proceedings.