ICC prosecutor: Threats to witnesses ruined Kenya VP case

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2016 1:54 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The prosecutor of International Criminal Court said Wednesday the crimes against humanity case against Kenya's deputy president and a former broadcaster collapsed after 17 witnesses withdrew their cooperation with the court as a result of intimidation.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a stinging assessment Wednesday, blaming the failure of the case to political interference in Kenya.

"Due to deliberate and concerted efforts to derail this case through witness interference, the judges have been prevented from determining the guilt or innocence of the accused on the full merits of the case," said Bensouda in a statement issued from The Hague. "What is also troubling is that the onslaught against this case has — for now — denied the victims of the 2007-2008 election violence in Kenya the justice they so rightly deserve."

Prosecution witnesses "were subjected to intimidation, social isolation and threats to prevent them from testifying," said Bensouda.

But the lawyer of Kenya's deputy president William Ruto said the collapse of the case is a damning indictment of the prosecution whose key witnesses were found not to be reliable. Karim Khan said Wednesday the case in which Ruto and former broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang were charged with crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating post-election violence in 2007-2008 that killed more than 1,000 people was built on a flawed foundation.

ICC judges set Ruto and Sang free Tuesday after declaring a mistrial saying there was insufficient evidence. However, the judges declined to acquit the accused. In so doing, the judges endorsed the prosecution's position that the case was severely undermined by interfering with witnesses. The judges said they would be open to hearing the case again in light of new evidence.