The decision to drop the case against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta last year was seen as a big blow to the ICC prosecutor. But now Fatou Benosuda has published a slightly redacted version of her pre-trial brief – a 73-page document stuffed with controversial claims and interesting theories.
Quickly dubbed “the Bensouda Dossier”, the document made the rounds, piggybacking on the publicity surrounding the murdered Kenyan ICC witness – who later turned out to be someone else. Even though the document was redacted to a certain extent it still names and shames several current and previous high-ranking Kenyan officials for alleged involvement in the post-election violence.
The release of the pre-trial brief was greeted by angry emotions and outrage against Kenyatta, Bensouda and other people named in the document. Amongst the latest developing stories is talk of suing Bensouda for libel and defamation. But reactions weren’t just limited to outraged interviews in the media. One of the most substantial discussions was whether the pre-trial brief should be seen as fact or allegation. This led to an interesting Twitter conversation between Dov Jacobs and Makau Mutua.
The Kenyatta defence team was quick to send out their interpretation of the material and didn’t pull their punches when laying into the documents presented by the Office of the Prosecutor.
“The proceedings at the ICC against Uhuru Kenyatta represented a miscarriage of justice. Rights to ensure fairness by the Prosecution towards an accused that would have been expected in any jurisdiction were plainly not employed in his case. The failure to check credibility of witnesses, willful blindness to obvious fabrication of stories by witnesses in the pursuit of a case, represented an unreasonable campaign to prosecute an individual at all costs.”
Bensouda wasn’t just criticized by the accused and their associates, but also by Kenyan journalist Oliver Mathenge for apparently copying an already existing report on the Kenyan PEV.
And not all reactions were critical. Bensouda’s release of the pre-trial brief was seen as a small victory for victims. It is worth noting that the request to release the documents came from the victims’ representative – a request which was then approved by the judges.
Another interesting tale in the story of lawsuits and libel claims is the possibility that the Kenyatta case could be reopened in a different context – court proceedings based on libel and defamation laws. But all we know for sure is that the last punch in this long-winding story has not been delivered.
The relationship Kenyatta and the ICC is a long and troubled one and there may be some more twists to come before it’s over.
- Is this the last we’ll hear in the Kenyatta ICC case?
- Do you interpret the documents released as facts or as allegations?
- Was it the right decision to redact some of the findings?
- Does this redaction make the document more or less credible?
Lead image: President Uhuru Kenyatta at the ICC (Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)
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