Tag Archives: Chile Eboe-Osuji

Recent Court Documents in the 2 ICC Kenya Cases 20 November 2013

The Prosecutor in the Ruto/Sang case asked to appeal the decision allowing the disclosure of Prosecution Intermediaries to the Defence. The Trial Chamber rejected her request for leave.

The same Trial Chamber permitted the Government of Kenya to file observations on the effect of the Parliamentary resolutions seeking Kenya’s withdrawal from the ICC Treaty.

The Kenyatta defence asked the Trial Chamber for a stay of proceedings prior to trial due to what they allege has been abuse of process by the Prosecutor. They also wanted a evidential hearing to discuss these alleged abuses. Kenyatta’s lawyers claimed that, among other things, OTP-11 and OTP-12 conspired to tamper with evidence collection and interfere with potential defence witnesses.

The Prosecutor in the Kenyatta case asked the Trial Chamber for protective measures for its first ten witnesses, including witnesses 2, 11, 217, 232, 429, 430, 493, and 505. These measures would include voice and face distortion; pseudonyms and some in camera sessions (where sessions are closed from the public). Some of the protective measures will safeguard the witnesses who have been relocated, others are to protect persons who are not before the court. In addition witnesses 11, 217, 429, 430, 493 and 505 would, according to the OTP, need protection because the nature of their evidence may be self-incriminatory.

The Kenyatta Trial Chamber decided to excuse Kenyatta from being continuously present throughout his trial, except during:

i.                     the entirety of the opening statements of all parties and participants;

ii.                   the entirety of the closing statements of all parties and participants;

iii.                  when victims present their views and concerns in person;

iv.                 the entirety of the delivery of judgement in the case;

v.                   the entirety of the sentencing hearings (if applicable);

vi.                 the entirety of the sentencing (if applicable);

vii.                the entirety of the victim impact hearings (if applicable);

viii.              the entirety of the reparation hearings (if applicable); and

ix.                 any other attendance directed by the Chamber.

Kenyatta promptly filed a waiver of his right to be present at his trial.

Judge Ozaki dissented from the main judgement which largely mirrored and elaborated on the Ruto Absence decision. She, however, felt that there was no discretion granted to the court to waive the presence of the accused except in truly exceptional and limited circumstances such as a personal tragedy- such as in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo- or a national tragedy such as the Westgate Attack. Furthermore, granting a waiver to Kenyatta would violate the obligation to treat all the accused equally.

Judge Eboe-Osuji also attached a separate opinion to the decision. In it, he clearly shows the influence that the protests from the African Union and the member states have had on the question of how to treat Kenyatta and Ruto (always, Sang sits forgotten). Judge Eboe-Osuji not only felt it was worth mentioning the complaints extensively, but also argued that it might be wrong as a matter of law to ignore the views of the state parties on this particular issue of the permission granted to Ruto and Kenyatta to be absent from much of their trials.

To some extent I have sympathy with Judge Eboe-Osuji’s views: as I mentioned previously, the ICC was arguably too defensive in its initial appraisal of the complaints by African states: this may have given the impression that the court was not listening to criticism. In addition, I sympathise with Judges of the two Kenya Trial Chambers who must somehow drag these trials to conclusion in the face of two accused- William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta- who clearly regard the ICC as a pointless foreign annoyance now that the long-coveted offices of President and Deputy President have been attained.

The Judges see the danger that Ruto and Kenyatta present: that faced with a situation where they cannot perform both their duties to the court and to Kenyans, the two of them will not do the honourable thing and resign from office. More likely, they will resign from being ICC accused, abscond and hunker down to take the consequences.

But I think the trial chambers over-reached in their reading of the statute in order to allow prolonged absence for the two on the basis that the  ‘extraordinary functions’ of their state offices created exceptional circumstances that warranted such prolonged absence. Furthermore, the functions of Deputy President (DP), as defined in our Constitution (Chapter 9 Part 2), are arguably not as ‘extraordinary’ as the Judges in the Ruto Decision were led to believe when excusing Ruto from continuous presence at his trial. The constitution makes quite clear that Kenyatta has a deputised assistant and not a co-president, irrespective of internal power-sharing arrangements within the ruling coalition.

Yet ultimately, though not thrilled about the prospect of defendants absconding and the even less thrilled by the prospect of yet more ICC arrest warrants that might be ignored- the last thing we need is a UHURUTO-WATCH website- I think that the two Trial Chambers must simply take up the hard task of crafting another way to ensure the accused who hold office comply with their national and international duties. Success is not guaranteed, but the same could be said about any endeavour to bring justice for victims of international crimes.

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Further Developments in the Ruto/Sang Case

The Prosecutor applied for leave to appeal the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision rejecting her application to amend the temporal scope of charges. The Prosecutor wanted factual allegations beginning on 30 December 2007 to be included in the charges. Both the Sang and Ruto Defence teams (here and here) object to the application for leave arguing that there is no appealable issue raised, the issues raised would not affect the fairness or expeditiousness of proceedings and a decision by the Appeals Chamber would not advance proceedings.

The Plenary of Judges of the ICC rejected the joint Ruto-Sang Defence application to change court sittings to East Africa (either Kenya or Tanzania). 9 judges voted against changing the place of sitting to Kenya, 5 voted for this option. 9 judges voted against changing to Tanzania, 4 voted against and 1 abstained.

Though none of the majority judges objected to the principle of the request, many were swayed by security concerns for victims and witnesses, by the potential for demonstrations and disruption and some were convinced the cost of holding parts of the proceedings in East Africa were not justifiable. In addition, according to dissenting Judge Eboe-Osuji, some may have been swayed by a late submission by the OTP on the eve of the Plenary decision that seemed to change the OTP position from being in favour of a trial close to the site of alleged crimes to one in which the Prosecutor felt it was not in the ‘interests of justice’ for the trial to be held in Kenya or Tanzania. The judge thought this late submission an ‘ambush’ by the Prosecutor, which gave the Defence no chance to reply prior to the Plenary Decision.

An open letter to the President of the ICC, written by Gladwell Otieno and arguing against holding the cases in Kenya, was the target of scathing words from Judge Eboe-Osuji. The judge noted that Otieno was a petitioner against William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta’s election as Deputy President and President respectively.

Here is the Supreme Court Judgement upholding that election as well as the People’s Court website run by, among others, Gladwell Otieno’s organisation. The People’s Court is an attempt to keep public debate about the March 4 Election litigation alive now that the election of Kenyatta and Ruto has been upheld.

Judge Eboe-Osuji felt that whereas Otieno’s letter had allegedly stated concerns about the politicisation of the cases if brought to East Africa, she, in fact, was contributing to the perception of politicisation by her direct involvement in this matter given her prior interest in seeking to nullify the political victory of the accused. It did not help, according to the Judge, that the Prosecutor appeared to have altered her views on the change of venue in a manner that coincided with Gladwell Otieno’s letter.

A change of venue application is also pending in the Kenyatta case; its prospects don’t look promising in light of the reasons the judges gave for rejecting the Ruto-Sang application.

The Trial Chamber rejected the parties’ suggestions for an ‘on-off’ court sitting schedule. However, the judges kept open the door that they may vary this schedule once the Kenyatta case starts.

The Trial Chamber also decided on the disclosure of screening notes of 12 Prosecution witnesses who will not be called at trial. The Court ordered disclosure of the notes to the Ruto Defence in full.

Recent Court Documents from the 2 ICC Kenya Cases 09 June 2013

The 2 Kenya cases will now be tried by two trial chambers according to a decision of the Presidency.

The Ruto, Sang case will heard by Judges Olga Herrera-Carbuccia (who is usually a Pre-Trial Judge), Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe-Osuji. It is designated Trial Chamber V(a).

The Kenyatta case will be heard by Judges Kuniko Ozaki, Robert Fremr and Chile Eboe-Osuji. It is designated Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Ozaki was also elected the presiding judge in this case

In removing her from the Ruto, Sang case, the decision states that Judge Ozaki’s workload (like that of Judge Wyngaert) had become excessive. But unlike Judge Wyngaert, the Presidency only removed Judge Ozaki from one case. Reading Judge Ozaki’s request to be excused, it’s interesting to see her cite, among other matters, ‘the unique demands’ and the ‘unprecedented filings’ by parties in the Kenya cases as part of the reason why the workload is now excessive- and the volume of filings is increasing as the trial dates draw nearer. It reminds me of what Fatou Bensouda said about the Kenya cases being the most challenging she’s had to prosecute. Maybe there’s something to be said for the claim that the ICC has not experienced a headache quite like these Kenyans!

Subsequent to the decision of the Kenyatta Trial Chamber to proceed with that trial, the Prosecutor conducted a review to check if there was anything that needed to be disclosed to the defence but was erroneously omitted from prior disclosure. The court had demanded that the Prosecutor review its evidence and its internal procedures to ensure the problems related to witness OTP-4’s affidavit were not repeated. The Prosecutor has identified several items of evidence as a result of this review and has stated that she will disclose these to the defence.

Why The Court Held that Kenyatta’s Case Must Continue

The Trial Chamber came to a decision on the Kenyatta Defence’s Article 64 application.

The Kenyatta defence had filed this application seeking to have the case either terminated, ‘permanently stayed’ or referred back to the pre-trial chamber. This came on the back of disclosure to the defence of OTP-4’s controversial affidavit and the decision of the Prosecutor not to proceed with the charges against Muthaura.

The Court’s Analysis

The court determined that failure to disclose OTP-4’s affidavit showed deficiencies in the Prosecutor’s evidence-handling practices, but did not warrant the extreme solution of a stay nor did it require asking the PTC to re-open the confirmation decision as the Trial Court was competent to resolve the matter. The court also was not convinced that delayed disclosure made a fair trial impossible.

The Court also pointed out that although OTP-4’s affidavit should have been disclosed in good time, the defence argument that the entire confirmation was flawed and should be re-opened represented an attempt to make the Trial Chamber an appeal chamber against the PTC’s judgement. The judges were not prepared accept such an unprecedented role. They also felt that the defence had not shown how the affidavit impacted the confirmation proceedings, rather, the defence simply used the affidavit to criticised the PTC’s methods and analysis. Finally, the defence seemed to ‘overstate’ the impact of OTP’s affidavit (and OTP-11’s screening notes that were also disclosed after confirmation): they could not show that a reasonable PTC could have come to a different conclusion bearing in mind the other evidence before it.

The same went for the defence argument that the new material and witnesses disclosed after confirmation proceedings materially altered the Prosecution case such that it would not be possible to proceed to trial. The Judges felt that despite the new material, the Prosecutor had stayed within the ‘facts and circumstances’ stated in the Document Containing Charges (DCC); even if there were changes made to the Pre-Trial Brief, it was the DCC that formed the borderlines of the Prosecutor’s case. In addition, the new material could not justify sending the case back to the PTC as the new material arose when the matter was within the rightful jurisdiction of the Trial Chamber, therefore it was the body responsible for handling the issue.

The court, however, criticised the volume of new material that the Prosecution brought after confirmation, noting that the burden was on the Prosecutor to show that such witnesses and material could not reasonably have been procured before confirmation. In this case, however, the court was satisfied that the ‘challenges’ with regard to investigating in Kenya sufficiently explained the late disclosure of large amounts new evidence.

In relation to Prosecutorial ethics, the Court criticised the Prosecutor’s failure to disclose the affidavit to the defence, but did not find anything to show fraud or intentional non-disclosure as the Defence had argued. The court also felt that to issue a stay on the basis of Prosecutorial misconduct would be excessive; the judges restricted themselves to issuing a reprimand.

Flowing from it’s reasoning, the court decided that the appropriate remedies were to reprimand the Prosecution for its conduct and give the defence more time to prepare their case (the Defence subsequently asked for trial to begin in January 2014).

Judge Wyngaert, in her brief separate opinion, was caustic about  Prosecutorial behaviour. She felt that the prosecution made only generic explanations for its difficulties in investigations and did not show how the situation (particularly for witnesses) had changed post-confirmation- if indeed the situation had changed. Several times the judge described the Prosecutor’s office as ‘negligent’ and she was clear that the negligence violated defence rights to a fair trial. But crucially, she accepted the mitigating factors for the Prosecutor who was operating under ‘difficult circumstances’.

Judge Eboe-Osuji aligned himself with the rest of the court on the main issues but had a lot more to say on the issues of fraud, OTP-4, the PTC’s analysis of evidence and of Post-Confirmation investigations. He categorically refuted the defence allegation of bad faith and fraud on the part of the Prosecutor. This is arguably correct: not only is ‘fraud’ an allegation of criminality that carries a high level of proof, but the actions of the Prosecutor in remedying the disclosure failings of her office contradict such a finding. Indeed, though the defence did not see OTP-4’s affidavit till late, it had been disclosed in full to Judge Trendafilova during confirmation proceedings; the Prosecutor admits however that she should have drawn the judge’s attention to the contradiction between the affidavit and OTP-4’s previous statements on the 3 January 2008 meeting. Judge Eboe-Osuji also felt that public policy was against sending the case back to the PTC; this would cause further delay in proceedings and judicial inefficiency. The Judge also cautioned the defence against drawing too much from the PTC’s assessment of OTP-4’s credibility. He pointed out that the PTC has a very limited role in assessing the credibility of witnesses compared with the Trial Chamber. Therefore a court should be reluctant to ask the PTC to reopen confirmation proceedings on the basis of additional evidence casting doubt on the credibility of confirmation witnesses.

Where Judge Eboe-Osuji parted ways with the main decision was on the question of post-confirmation investigations. The judge felt that the reasoning of the majority would unreasonably restrict Prosecutors in future cases from pursuing such investigations, even when they would be in the interests of justice.

Judge Ozaki also agreed with the main decision, but felt that the test for issuing a stay and the test for remitting a matter to the PTC should be applied separately. To her, it seemed that the main decision had decided both issues together without fully analysing each. She further felt that there should never be a reason why a Trial Chamber would refer back to the Pre-Trial Chamber an issue about framing of the charges- an issue that she felt was solely within the competence of the Prosecutor. In other words, the Trial Chamber could not refer back something over which it had no power to begin with. Instead, she felt that in the event there is a problem with the charges, the Prosecutor should be invited to amend them and, failing this, the Trial Chamber could discontinue the trial on the basis that a violation of the right to fair trial had occurred.

Way forward

Does this judgement feed the anti-ICC position? I think not, but it won’t stop Kenyan politicians and the Executive from making hay from this. For example, the A-G has been vocal recently about the cooperation that Kenya has given the court. So the fact that the judges partly accepted the Prosecutor’s argument that investigating in Kenya has been a challenge suggests that the A-G’s cooperation argument may not be as strong as he portrays it. The court was also clear in separating criticisms of the choice of cases by the Prosecutor from criticism of her conduct of those cases. As Judge Eboe-Osuji explained, allegations of bad faith or egregious conduct by the Prosecutor should not cause the Trial Chamber to lose sight of the important role it is playing in bringing accountability for Post-Election Violence. The same advice should go to the opponents of the ICC.

Sadly, the AU has joined the bandwagon of criticising the ICC wholecloth without differentiating between poor Prosecutorial practice and the fitness of the ICC for its purpose of breaking down walls of impunity. Of course the conclusion that the Prosecutor may have been negligent in handling the Kenya cases won’t help matters- even if she reforms the internal functioning and evidence review in her office what guarantees are there that it had not happened in the past and will not happen again?

But what the court did not say was the very thing that Uhuruto’s political and diplomatic defenders have been arguing- that the Kenyatta case was too weak to ever go to trial. It is this telling omission that is probably motivating the accused and their associates to rejuvenate exhausted shuttle diplomacy for another lap around the globe.

To use a sailing metaphor: the fact that her sails had big holes in them does not mean that the Prosecutor’s ship was sailing in the wrong direction- only that the Prosecutor should probably have prepared better before leaving port. Only a full trial can determine whether her destination (conviction of the accused) is within reach according the evidence.

Following the Hague trials of 4 Kenyans to the end. A blog by Archie Nyarango

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