NAIROBI – In what could substantially send Â Uhuru direct to jail somewhere in Britain or Rwanda, if he so chooses, Â ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda now says she has telephone recordings of associates of President Uhuru Kenyatta inducing two key witnesses to withdraw their evidence.
On Tuesday, Bensouda was allowed by the ICC trial chamber judges to file a 41 page document, far exceeding the 20-page limit, opposing Uhuru’s application to stay the proceedings against him. Uhuru badly wants the case at the ICC to end and ‘Benny’, the mother of world justice, also madly wants to punish an errand boy. It is bad out there!
Bensouda presented to the judges that Uhuru’s application to halt his case “comes nowhere near the high threshold the Appeals Chamber has set for such relief” and argued that the matters the president raises in his application “show why the trial is necessary”.
Uhuru argues on the credibility of the prosecutions witnesses believed to be former Mungiki ‘insiders’, and whom the defence claims should be raised at trial.
“The Defenceâ€™s arguments on witness credibility â€“ which omit facts that undermine the Defenceâ€™s position and which the Prosecution disputes â€“ are reasons to have a trial, not reasons to avoid a trial,” she said.
With names redacted, Bensouda named people who offered witnesses P-0011 and P-0012 money to drop their testimony. However, the same witnesses agreed to telephone recording of their conversations during the course of the attempted witness bribery.
Earlier in September 2011 during confirmation of charges hearings, Uhuru had claimed the two witnessess, p-0011 and P-0012 were “professional criminal extortionists” who had attempted to get money from him. In his recent applications, Uhuru again accused the two witnesses of interference with defense investigations.
â€œTo determine the scope of the bribery scheme, the Prosecution conducted a series of monitored telephone calls between P-0012 and [REDACTED], and between the witness and his family members,” Bensouda stated..
“The conversations revealed that [REDACTED], holding himself out as acting on behalf of the Accused, offered P-0012 money and other benefits in exchange for the witnessâ€™s agreement to withdraw his evidence,â€ she said.
â€œMr Kenyatta was informed of the scheme and wanted to avoid direct involvement because he was concerned about getting caught tampering with evidence.”
In rejecting Uhuru’s application, Bensouda indicated how it was â€œextremely difficultâ€ for her office to get Mungiki to testify as many of their colleagues had been assassinated. The two witnesses were contacted by Uhuru’s associates first in 2011. This was through a State House operative among others.
According to the account provided by P-0012, the intermediaries stated that funds had been ‘set aside to buy’ witnesses, and instructed the two to ‘look for these people. We buy them’.
The intermediaries are reported to have stated that individuals who agreed ‘to say Uhuru . . . did not use the Mungikis’ will be paid a large amount of money.’
Witness 12 said that they were told that funds had been â€œset aside to buyâ€ witnesses and instructed them to look out for other possible witnesses who could testify that Uhuru was not involved. Witness 12 claimed that the offer of payment was â€œcoupled with the threat of harmâ€ to those who did not cooperate.
They were told to prepare a report on how to bring on board other Mungiki witnesses for the defence. Witness 11 cooperated on the report with a person who allegedly worked with Uhuru during the post election violence.
“P-0011 and P-0012 reported that they went along with the scheme for a time and acted as Defence intermediaries, connecting Defence counsel with Mungiki members. P-0011 and P-0012 explained that they told the Mungiki members they introduced not to ‘say exactly what you know or how you think Uhuru was involved’, which could get them ‘killed’, and that ‘later they will be paid’, said Bensouda.
By March 2011, the witnesses fell out with Uhuru’s intermediaries after they failed to honour an agreement to organise a meeting with Uhuru. They said they were afraid they were going to be killed.
The two then contacted the ICC Chief Prosecutor on March 28, 2011 stating that they were â€œready to expose the crimes that were committed by PNU in PEV.â€
The witnesses told the prosecution they had given false statements to the Uhuru’s defence because they were still waiting on him to â€œcommit himselfâ€ on their security.
The two said Uhuru’s British lawyers and their Kenyan counterpart had coached them to exonerate Uhuru.
â€œThe witnesses reported that before their interviews, [REDACTED] promised them that â€œwe shall arrange (to meet the Accused) later onâ€, to obtain security â€œassurance[s]â€ and to discuss payment,â€ Bensouda said.
Bensouda finally disclosed the identities of the two witnesses on August 1, 2012 after resisting earlier requests to do so.