Lawyers warn of arrest if Uhuru absconds

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African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma talks during a media briefing after the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on the case of African Relationship with International Criminal Court (ICC), in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, October 12, 2013.

 

A section of lawyers on Sunday warned of the possibility of the International Criminal Court issuing a warrant for President Kenyatta’s arrest should he fail to attend his trial in The Hague.

 

This followed the AU resolve on Saturday that President Kenyatta should not show up for trial at the ICC on November 12 before the request to adjourn his case is addressed.

 

 

This came as ICC officials remained tight-lipped on their next move, with a senior official who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter saying they were yet to officially receive the resolutions.

 

“We are not providing a comment just yet. We need to first study the resolutions of the meeting before we can speak about it. The resolutions have not been transmitted to us. We have not seen them,” the official told the Nation on Sunday.

 

In show of support, Juja MP Francis Munyua said he would relinquish his parliamentary seat in protest while his colleagues Francis Kigo (Gatundu North) and Alice Ng’ang’a (Thika) told the President to boycott the case.

 

In Kericho, Soin/Sigowet MP Justice Kemei asked AU member states to consider pulling out of the Rome Statute.

 

However, Mr George Kegoro, the executive director for International Commission of Jurists – Kenyan Chapter, warned that if President Kenyatta heeds the African Union resolution, “then Kenya will be like Sudan.”

 

He was referring to arrest warrants issued for Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir since 2009. “It is now up to the President to decide whether to respect the ICC summons as Kenya is still a State party to the Rome Statute or follow the AU resolutions…if he decides to follow the latter, then I can assure you that Kenya will be like Sudan,” he said.

 

Similar sentiments were also echoed by Mr Gitobu Imanyara, another lawyer, who warned that the country risked international isolation if the President did not attend the trial.

 

Through his Twitter account, Mr Imanyara, a former MP, said should the President skip trial, the warrant for arrest would be against him and not the leaders advising him.

 

“There is no humiliation in proving one’s innocence before a Court of law such as the ICC. Deputy President Ruto has not been humiliated,” he tweeted.

 

“There will be greater humiliation for the President and Kenya as a nation if he fails to attend his trial. It is not the Western powers that will face decline, but Kenya as a country, if Uhuru takes AU ‘advice’ and shuns ICC. Follow Ruto’s example,” read another tweet.

 

Narc-Kenya leader Martha Karua also tweeted that leaders are elected to represent the people but not to advance personal agenda.

 

“But Africa seems to want to redefine democracy,” she said.

 

Law Society of Kenya chief executive Apollo Mboya said that the LSK council would sit today to deliberate the matter before making their official position known.

 

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has condemned the AU’s demand that the African leaders be exempted from prosecution by the ICC.

 

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